The International Community Failed in Nagorno-Karabakh
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Following a brutal onslaught last week, it appears the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict may be over. For years, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought over the territory, laying claim to this region. Thousands have died during the three-decade war, and many more have been injured.

In 2021, a false sense of hope emerged, suggesting that Armenia and Azerbaijan had reached a potential agreement in their ongoing conflict. During the negotiation process, Armenian officials stated that ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh would leave, and that Azerbaijanis would be able to move to the area. The Armenian government offered incentives to Armenians living in the region, such as thousands of dollars to help them relocate and other possibilities, but residents opted not to move.

Azerbaijani officials then began to pressure the Armenians, but nothing occurred during these discussions. Finally, after two years of waiting, the Azerbaijani government became impatient, and it decided to resort to violence.

Over the course of 24 hours, Azerbaijani forces attacked residents in Nagorno-Karabakh, arguing that it was engaging with separatist forces in the region. Hundreds of people were killed during the attack, and many more were injured. Azerbaijan then stated that it would stake claim to the area, and that Armenians would have to leave.

What followed was chaotic. Photos and videos emerged on social media, showing ethnic Armenians fleeing the region. Traffic jams were apparent, and residents were fearing for their lives. A few Russian soldiers were also reportedly killed during the Azerbaijani attack.

Armenia was quick to condemn the events. First, the Armenian government stated that it did not have a military presence in Nagorno-Karabakh, thus, it could not demilitarize the area. Second, Armenian officials said they could no longer rely on Russian authorities to provide them with safety and assistance. Third, the international community was criticized as it failed to intervene during the Azerbaijani attacks.

For decades, the globe has been unable to resolve this conflict. For years, the United States provided millions in humanitarian and financial assistance, but these efforts did not materialize. Similarly, the European Union provided humanitarian aid. American and European officials also met with their Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on several occasions to try and resolve the ongoing conflict. Western officials even declared that these dialogues were producing promising results, and that progress was being made between both parties. But recent events and forced takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan suggests that these talks never materialized, and that diplomacy was unfortunately not going to play a role in resolving the war. Instead, it suggests that brute force was only ever going to be the solution to potentially ending the conflict.

Similarly, involvement from Russia and Turkey never materialized. During the renewed fighting in 2020, Russia and Turkey brokered a ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The fighting briefly ended, and a few thousand Russian soldiers were deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh as a peacekeeping force. Despite these discussions and the ceasefire, Russia and Turkey also failed to stop the continued violence in Nagorno-Karabakh. When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, several of its partners began to distance themselves as they did not want to be associated with Russia’s actions, nor be punished by international sanctions. Since the start of the war, Russia has lost hundreds of billions of dollars and the Russians are distracted by their failed war. Meanwhile, Turkey has been faced with significant economic issues. This has preoccupied the Turkish government, and authorities are trying to do what they can to resolve the economic woes so that they stay in power. Given the internal affairs of these two states, Russia’s and Turkey’s role as intermediaries in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has declined. This, combine with failed American and European attempts to end the war, led Azerbaijan to believe that it had to take matters into its own hands.

Overall, multiple states within the international community have attempted to resolve the multidecade conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Despite their efforts, these attempts failed. Multiple ceasefires were violated, thousands were killed and injured, and this only worsened the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Now, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is chaotic. While the conflict may be forcibly resolved soon, the end to the war came as a result of violence and bloodshed. In short, the international community failed, and the consequences have been devastating. The globe, therefore, must learn from the brutal events that occurred in the region, and it cannot afford to make similar mistakes. Otherwise, similar conflicts around the world may result in identical, catastrophic outcomes.

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eurasian affairs and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center. He can be found on X @MTemnycky