On September 19th, Azerbaijan launched a swift military offensive against ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, a long disputed region. Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war over this territory following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which resulted in de-facto Armenian control over what is internationally recognized to be Azerbaijani territory.
That status quo existed for nearly 30 years, until September 2020 when Azerbaijan launched a surprise military offensive routing ethnic Armenian forces. Russia brokered a ceasefire and installed Russian peacekeepers to enforce a truce. But Azerbaijan had the clear military advantage. Meanwhile Russia’s invasion of Ukraine undermined its role in the region. So, Azerbaijan took the initiative and now a de-facto ethnic cleansing is underway as tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians flees their homes–and their homeland since the middle ages.
Joining me from Yerevan, Armenia to discuss this unfolding crisis is Olesya Vartanyan, Senior Analyst for the South Caucasus region at the International Crisis Group.
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