Flashpoint Nagorno-Karabakh: How the Armenian-Azeri Conflict Started and What’s at Stake

Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh continues to escalate, with Armenia and authorities in the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh which control the enclave declaring martial law and starting mobilizations of reserve servicemen. Baku, meanwhile, has announced martial law and declared curfews in parts of the country.

What Sparked the Fighting?

Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities have made conflicting claims about what began Sunday’s escalation.

According to the Azeri side, self-defence forces from Artsakh (the Armenian side’s name for Nagorno-Karabakh), spontaneously began massed artillery strikes on settlements and Azerbaijani military positions along the entire line of contact, causing both civilian and military casualties.

The Armenian side says it was azerbaijan which sparked the fighting by launching massed missile, artillery and air strikes at targets inside Nagorno-Karabakh, prompting local self-defence forces to respond.

Hints of Coming Conflict

On September 25, two days before the fighting started, Armenia and azerbaijan accused one another of building up forces along the border between the two states. A week earlier, on September 19, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said he “negatively” assessed the situation surrounding negotiations with Yerevan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, saying that “in practice, the negotiations process is not taking place.”

The Armenian and Azerbaijani militaries had already clashed directly for several weeks in July, with the…

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