Russia has accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire agreement with Armenia by setting up a surveillance post more than 2,000 meters above sea level. The incident took place in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory between the two former Soviet republics. Azerbaijani troops crossed the demarcation line established by a 2020 agreement, mediated by Moscow, to position themselves at a higher point, which is a clear violation of the signed pacts. Moscow has demanded the withdrawal of Azerbaijani soldiers and has said that the Russian peacekeeping force is taking measures to prevent an escalation of the crisis.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a brief war in 2020 for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, which resulted in the death of more than 6,500 people. Despite peace talks and Western efforts, the risk of escalation remains high in this Azerbaijani enclave with a predominantly Armenian population. Armenia has been warning of a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh due to an Azerbaijani blockade that has caused food and medicine shortages along with power cuts. Armenia accuses the Russian peacekeeping force of failing to end the blockade, aggravating the situation further.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict started more than a century ago when Azerbaijan and Armenia declared themselves independent of the Russian Empire in 1918. The territorial distribution led to discrepancies, which resulted in a short war. However, with the Soviet Union taking over the area, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, the issue was temporarily put to rest until the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was established.
The conflict escalated in the late 1980s, with sporadic clashes that even lead to the intervention of the Soviet Army. After the withdrawal of Soviet forces, the Armenian and Azerbaijani militias began to clash more intensely. A military conflict took place between 1992 and 1994, leaving more than 30,000 dead. The war resulted in the signing of a cessation of hostilities, yet the Republic of Artsakh, de facto independent but not recognized by other states, controls the territories of Nagorno-Karabakh, creating tensions that have not subsided.
Azerbaijan has strengthened its army to a point that Armenia cannot match, given its oil-based economy. However, the situation remains tense. In 2016, the “Four-Day War” took place, and tensions resurfaced in 2020, leading to martial law and the full or partial mobilization of their forces. The UN, EU, Russia, and the US have all called for an immediate ceasefire.