Overview of Nagorno-Karabakh

Map of Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan, where Nagorno-Karabakh is located, and its majority of ethnic Armenians, who are supported by neighboring Armenia, are engaged in an unresolved conflict over the landlocked mountainous region.

Azerbaijani forces and Armenian separatists started a bloody war in 1988, as the Soviet Union was coming to an end, and when a truce was signed in 1994, ethnic Armenians were in control of the de facto independent state.

Permanent peace agreements haven't been reached through negotiations yet. The OSCE's Minsk Group, which had been working to mediate a settlement of the conflict but whose efforts have been called into question by Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, is co-chaired by Russia, France, and the US. The EU is also attempting to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

  • : capital. Stepanakert.
  • Area:. 3,170 sq km.
  • Population:. 120,000.
  • Languages:. Armenian and Russian.
  • Expected lifespan: 75 years.
A man walks along a street during the ongoing military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the disputed province's capital of Stepanakert

Radio and television are broadcast by the government in Nagorno-Karabakh. Additionally, locals have access to Russian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian programming.

  • The government of Nagorno-Karabakh founded Azat Artsakh.
  • The Nagorno-Karabakh government founded Artsakh TV News.
Nagorno-Karabakh's main city Stepanakert
The region's biggest city, Stepankert, serves as the de facto capital.

The conflict's origins can be traced back more than a century to rivalry between Christian Armenian and Muslim Turkic and Persian influences.

Karabakh, which had been inhabited for centuries by Christian Armenians and Turkic Azeris, joined the Russian empire in the 19th century.

Despite brutality on both sides in the early 20th century, the two groups coexisted in a largely peaceful environment.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, with an ethnic Armenian majority, was created within the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan in the early 1920s as part of the new Soviet rulers' divide-and-rule policy in the region following the conclusion of World War One and the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.

As the Soviet Union disintegrated in late 1991, Karabakh proclaimed itself an independent republic, and as Soviet control loosened, simmering tensions between Armenians and Azeris erupted into a full-fledged war.

It is estimated that up to 30,000 people died during the fighting between 1992 and 1994. In this area, Armenians took power.

Additionally, they continued to occupy Azerbaijani land outside of Karabakh, establishing a buffer zone around Lachin and connecting Karabakh and Armenia.

During the fighting, over a million people left their homes. Ethnic Armenians fled the rest of Azerbaijan while the ethnic Azeri population, which made up about 25% of the total before the war, fled to Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia.

After a cease-fire was agreed upon in 1994 through Russian mediation, Armenia gained control of Karabakh and large portions of the surrounding Azeri territory.

Voters approved a new constitution in a 2017 referendum, transforming the government from a semi-presidential one to a fully presidential one. Although both names continue to be used officially, the territory's name was changed from "Nagorno Karabakh Republic" to "Republic of Artsakh".

Nagorno is a Russian root word that means "mountainous," whereas Karabakh is an Azeri word that means "black garden.". The ancient Armenian name for the area is "Artsakh," and it is used by ethnic Armenians today.

The international community hasn't acknowledged its de facto status.

Even though Armenia has never formally acknowledged the region's independence, it has grown to be its main source of financial and military support, and the breakaway territory now operates as a de facto part of Armenia.

From 1994 until September 2020, when Azerbaijan launched an offensive to retake territory near Karabakh, there was a simmering standoff that was occasionally broken by armed conflict.

In the six weeks of fighting prior to another ceasefire mediated by Russia, about 3,000 Azerbaijani soldiers and 4,000 Armenian soldiers were killed.

All of the territory that Armenian forces have taken over outside of the former Soviet Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast has been agreed to be returned to Azerbaijan.

Nagorno-Karabakh map

In addition to ensuring safe passage through the Lachin region, or the so-called "Lachin corridor," which separates Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia, Russian peacekeepers were sent to keep an eye on a recent ceasefire mediated by Moscow.

In September 2022, fighting broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani troops along the two countries' border, resulting in the deaths of about 50 soldiers on each side.

Russian peacekeeping forces on the road outside Lachin
In 2020, Russian peacekeeping forces are seen traveling near Lachin.

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