Follow us on social

Armenia Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenians' fate in Nagorno-Karabakh hangs in the balance

Azerbaijan launches military assault while Russia is distracted in Ukraine

Analysis | QiOSK

Update 9/19, 2 p.m.: A United States official said that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold urgent talks in the next 24 hours with all sides to end the “egregious” operation by Azerbaijan. A press statement by Blinken called "for an immediate end to hostilities and for respectful dialogue between Baku and representatives of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh."

It appears that Azerbaijan has decided to finish off by force what remains of the ethnic Armenian population in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh; and judging by the response of the international community to Azerbaijani moves in recent years, nobody appears willing to do much to prevent it.

In the early afternoon of September 19, the Azerbaijani military launched a “local anti-terrorist” operation against the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh to “...ultimately restore the constitutional order of the Republic of Azerbaijan.” The move follows their disputed claims that mines “planted by the reconnaissance-subversion groups of Armenia’s armed forces” blew up civilian and military vehicles, resulting in six dead.

This development comes after weeks of anticipation of such an attack given Azerbaijani troop movements near the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the increased airborne deliveries from Israel which supplies Azerbaijan with a large proportion of its armaments, and counter-preparations by the ethnic Armenian forces amidst an over nine-month long blockade of the Lachin Corridor.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense statement claimed that “the civilian population and civilian infrastructure facilities are not targeted. Only legitimate military targets are being incapacitated.” However, reports from on the ground in the de facto capital of Stepanakert show shelling and civilian casualties.

Since the Moscow-brokered ceasefire that ended the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020 and brought Russian peacekeepers to the region, tensions have been escalating as Baku has sought to fully assert its control over the long-disputed territory. At first, the peacekeepers were generally able to protect what remained of Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh after the successful Azerbaijani 2020 assault. However, since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the huge commitment and losses of Russian forces there, Russia’s military ability to intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh seems largely to have vanished.

Azerbaijan for its part had repeatedly and unequivocally stated that there is no need for outside intervention in its domestic affairs as Yerevan, Brussels, and Washington increased their calls for the future guarantee of the rights and security of Karabakh Armenians under Azerbaijani rule.

Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan has said that Azerbaijan wants to involve Armenia into a large-scale war but that Armenia is not and will not become involved in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said on X, formerly Twitter, that the “Military actions of Azerbaijan must be immediately halted to allow for a genuine dialogue between Baku and Karabakh Armenians.” The office of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell issued a statement condemning the military escalation.

Russia has urged the conflicting parties to “stop the bloodshed, immediately cease hostilities and return to the path of a political and diplomatic settlement.” Moscow also rejected Baku’s claim that they had informed the Russian side in advance of the assault.

The U.S. still has yet to make any statement on the situation. However, in comments to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, Yuri Kim, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs made clear that the U.S. condemns the use of force and will not accept any moves “to ethnically cleanse or commit other atrocities against the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

What the fate of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh illustrates with tragic force is that while for a generation the United States and its NATO allies have been implacably hostile to Russia’s presence in the South Caucasus, they have neither the ability nor the will to replace Russia — which is now bogged down in Ukraine — as a security provider in the region, and to resolve or contain its ethnic disputes. Therefore, for Armenians, the tragedy of the war in Ukraine and its repercussions are being felt directly in the South Caucasus.

Protesters gather near the government building, after Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in Yerevan, Armenia, September 19, 2023. Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Analysis | QiOSK
Chris Murphy Ben Cardin

Photo Credit: viewimage and lev radin via

Senate has two days to right Menendez’s wrongs on Egypt


Time is ticking if senators want to reinstate a hold on U.S. military aid to Egypt following indictments this week against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is accused of taking bribes in exchange for greasing the skids for Cairo to receive weapons and aid.

On September 22, the Southern District of New York indicted the New Jersey Democrat, his wife Nadine Arslanian Menendez, and three associates on federal corruption charges. Prosecutors alleged that the senator accepted bribes, including gold bars, stacks of cash, and a Mercedes-Benz convertible, using his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to benefit the government of Egypt. The FBI is now investigating Egyptian intelligence’s possible role.

keep readingShow less
Diplomacy Watch: A peace summit without Russia
Diplomacy Watch: Laying the groundwork for a peace deal in Ukraine

Diplomacy Watch: Domestic politics continue to challenge Ukraine’s allies


Last week’s edition of Diplomacy Watch focused on how politics in Poland and Slovakia were threatening Western unity over Ukraine. A spat between Warsaw and Kyiv over grain imports led Polish President Andrzej Duda to compare Ukraine to a “drowning person … capable of pulling you down to the depths ,” while upcoming elections in Slovakia could bring to power a new leader who has pledged to halt weapons sales to Ukraine.

As Connor Echols wrote last week, “the West will soon face far greater challenges in maintaining unity on Ukraine than at any time since the war began.”

keep readingShow less
What the GOP candidates said about Ukraine in 4:39 minutes

What the GOP candidates said about Ukraine in 4:39 minutes


The second Republican debate last night hosted by Fox news was marked by a lot of acrimony, interruptions, personal insults and jokes that didn't quite land, like Chris Christie calling an (absent) Donald Trump, "Donald Duck," and Mike Pence saying he's "slept with a teacher for 30 years" (his wife).

What it did not feature was an informed exchange on the land war in Europe that the United States is heavily invested in, to the tune of $113 billon dollars and counting, not to mention precious weapons, trainers, intelligence and political capital. Out of the tortuous two hours of the debate — which included of course, minutes-long commercials and a "game" at the end that they all refused to play — Ukraine was afforded all but 4 minutes and 39 seconds. This, before the rancor moved on — not to China, though that country took a beating throughout the evening — but to militarizing the border and sending special forces into Mexico to take out cartel-terrorists who are working with the Chinese.

keep readingShow less

Ukraine War Crisis