Soldiers from the former Soviet republics and neighboring countries of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been firing at each other again since Monday. Again, about Nagorno-Karabakh, the mountainous region of the South Caucasus. After the collapse of the USSR 30 years ago, the territory passed to Muslim Azerbaijan. However, mostly Armenians live in Nagorno-Karabakh, so Christian Armenia also claims this territory. The last war was two years ago, and now both sides are again reporting dozens of dead soldiers.
The war in the fall of 2020 did not finally solve the problem, says Istanbul correspondent Thomas Avenarius. From Azerbaijan’s point of view, only part of Nagorno-Karabakh was recaptured. For now, only Baku and its guaranteeing power, Turkey, can allow the conflict to escalate into war. But Russia, patroness of Yerevan, has such big problems in Ukraine “that it can hardly devote itself to the Caucasus.” Many former Soviet republics moved further and further away from Moscow, continues Avenarius. Ankara sees the South Caucasus as its sphere of influence, while Moscow sees the entire Caucasus as Russia’s backyard. Azerbaijan is a “great resource power” and, unlike Armenia, a very prosperous country. “Azerbaijan is an important exporter and an important pipeline country. Important not only for Russia, but also for Turkey.”
It is a “very explosive region” with violent conflicts. This will also be shown further east in Central Asia in the current skirmishes on the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. There, the “Afghan civil war” partially spread to neighboring countries. “This whole region is completely unstable, especially after the West left.” There, too, Moscow “can no longer fulfill its tasks as a factor of stability” because of the war in Ukraine. Avenarius adds: “The hackneyed term ‘powder keg’, unfortunately, fits.”
Our old podcast about the historical conflict can be found here.
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