Nagorno-Karabakh’s Gathering War Clouds
|Title||Nagorno-Karabakh’s Gathering War Clouds|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Subtitle / Series Title||Europe Report N°244|
|Institution||International Crisis Group|
A year after Nagorno-Karabakh’s April 2016 violent flare-up, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closer to war than at any point since the 1994 ceasefire. Political and security conditions that prompted the April 2016 escalation have become more acute and both sides claim a new wave of escalation already has begun. Since mid-January 2017, deadly incidents involving the use of heavy artillery and anti-tank weapons have occurred with varying degrees of intensity; May saw a significant increase, including reports of self-guided rockets and missiles used near densely populated areas along the Line of Contact (LoC), the heavily militarised area that divides the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides since the 1994 ceasefire. The settlement process has stalled, making the use of force tempting, at least for tactical purposes; today, both sides – backed by mobilised constituencies – appear ready for confrontation. These tensions could develop into larger-scale conflict, leading to significant civilian casualties and possibly prompting the main regional powers to intervene. Russia, France and the U.S. need to put their differences aside and apply concerted high-level pressure on the parties to unlock the current paralysis and mitigate risks of renewed violence.