Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has warned that conflict with Azerbaijan is “very likely.”

Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of “genocide” in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, telling AFP that “so long as a peace treaty has not been signed and such a treaty has not been ratified by the parliaments of the two countries, of course, a (new) war (with Azerbaijan) is very likely.”

Similar concerns have been voiced in the past, and it is past time for the rest of the world to take notice. Armenia and Azerbaijan have already fought two battles over the enclave, the most recent in 2020, with skirmishes continuing ever since. So far, talks between the two former Soviet republics mediated by the EU, the US, and Russia have failed to provide a breakthrough.

Two recent occurrences have heightened worries of a full-fledged battle in the Caucasus. The first is the Russia-Ukraine war, and the second is Azerbaijan’s continued blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia, distracted by Ukraine, has been losing power in the region, leaving Armenia without allies.

Armenia ceded most of the regions it had occupied during the 1990s to Baku during the 2020 Karabakh war, which international experts claim was precipitated by Azerbaijan.

The fighting ended after Moscow brokered a peace agreement, with Russia stationing over 2,000 peacekeepers in the region as part of the arrangement. Moscow also has an existing deal with Yerevan that specifies that if Armenia is attacked, Russia will provide military protection. The contract does not cover Nagorno-Karabakh.

Despite several instances of ceasefire violations by Azeri troops, an isolated Russia has tried to avoid conflict with Azerbaijan since the start of the Ukraine war.

Azerbaijan has rejected any global procedures, claiming that such assurances must be supplied at the national level. Baku’s unwillingness to invite international observers merely adds to Armenians in Karabakh’s anxieties about the current situation and their future.

There is no question that the blockade must be lifted in order to avoid war. In order to improve the existing situation, the EU, which has dispatched a civilian mission to Karabakh, should be willing to work with Russian forces.

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