The Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire

Assessing Regional Stability and Russia's Role
September 21, 2023
In our latest Quick Read, Elene Kintsurashvili examines the recent Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire and its implications for regional stability, emphasizing Russia's role in the conflict and the potential for Armenia to shape its own future without Russian interference.


Just a day after Azerbaijan launched an “anti-terrorist operation” in Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku and the leaders of the unrecognized "Republic of Artsakh'' reached a ceasefire agreement obliging the latter to disarm and leave the area.  
The developments around Nagorno-Karabakh hold an immense significance in the volatile South Caucasus region, with far-reaching implications for regional stability and the role that Russia has played in this long-standing conflict. 
Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan, has seen two wars since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. As a result, tens of thousands perished and over a million fled their homes in the midst of reports of both sides engaging in ethnic cleansing.  
As a regional heavyweight, Russia has played a pivotal role, positioning itself as a key mediator between Baku and Yerevan. Moscow has supported Armenia by supplying arms and offering political support, largely through the presence of the Russian 102nd Military Base in Gyumri. Additionally, as a member of the CSTO, Russia was to provide security guarantees to Armenia. This backing has given Moscow significant leverage to meddle in Armenia’s internal affairs. 

In 2020, Azerbaijan won the second war in Nagorno-Karabakh, recovering most of the territories of the enclave. Russia brokered a ceasefire and deployed a peacekeeping mission to guarantee the security of residents and free access to Armenian-controlled territories through the sole route connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, the Lachin corridor. With Moscow redirecting all its attention to the war against Ukraine, Azerbaijan used the window of opportunity to take control over the corridor. The blockade has made it impossible for ethnic Armenian residents of the area to access essential goods, including food and medicine, resulting in a humanitarian crisis. 
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has had a profound impact on the Armenian population. While the recent ceasefire offers hope for future reconciliation and peace, it is essential that the international community, including the United Nations, work collectively to uphold the principles of human rights and prevent further suffering. Once Azerbaijan takes control of the area, it is of crucial importance that Baku respect the rights of minority populations.  
In the long term, this process might lead Armenia to normalize its relations with neighbors and focus on its economy and development. Given Moscow’s current lack of attention to Armenia, Yerevan has a chance to shape its own future without Russian meddling. Continued diplomatic efforts, cooperation, and vigilance from the global community will help foster lasting peace and stability in the South Caucasus.