Armenian–Azerbaijani border conflict

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Armenian–Azerbaijani border conflict
Part of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Date 12 May 1994 (ceasefire) – present (24 years, 5 months and 3 days)
Location Armenia–Azerbaijan state border, Nagorno-Karabakh–Azerbaijan line of contact
Status Ongoing
Belligerents

 Nagorno-Karabakh
 Armenia
Supported by:

 Azerbaijan
Supported by:

Commanders and leaders

Current leaders:

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arayik Harutyunyan
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Movses Hakobyan
Armenia Serzh Sargsyan
Armenia Seyran Ohanyan
Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev
Azerbaijan Artur Rasizade
Azerbaijan Zakir Hasanov (2013–present)
Azerbaijan Safar Abiyev (1995–2013)
Azerbaijan Najmaddin Sadigov
Units involved

Army NKR.jpg Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army
Armmil zinanshan.jpg Armed Forces of Armenia

Coat of arms of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces.png Azerbaijani Armed Forces

Strength
Armenia: 45,850 active servicemen
NKR: 14,500 active servicemen
66,940 active servicemen
Casualties and losses
214 soldiers, 16 civilians killed (2008–2016) 1,008 soldiers and 90+ civilians killed, 1,205 soldiers and 140 civilians wounded, 30+ soldiers and 12 civilians captured (1994–2016)[8]
~3,000 (May 1994 – August 2009)[9]
406–467+ killed (2010–2016)

The Armenian–Azerbaijani border conflict is a sporadic border war on the Armenian–Azerbaijan border and at the line of contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and the Aran region of Azerbaijan.

Background

As the Soviet Union was dissolving, ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan fought a brief conflict, backed by Armenia proper, that resulted in the de facto independence of Nagorno-Karabakh (NKR) alongside a 1994 ceasefire agreement and what academics have called a frozen conflict. At the same time, Azerbaijan controls the exclave of the Nakhichivan Autonomous Republic bordering Armenia that is not contiguous with its main territory.

Some clashes occurred in the years following the 1994 ceasefire.[10] Although no exact casualty figures exist, by 2009, as many as 3,000 people, mostly soldiers, had been killed, according to most observers.[11] In 2008, the fighting became more intense and frequent.[12] With 72 deaths recorded throughout the year, 2014 became the bloodiest since the war ended.[10]

Conflict

2008 Mardakert skirmishes

The 2008 Mardakert skirmishes began on 4 March after the 2008 Armenian election protests. It involved the heaviest fighting between ethnic Armenian[13] and Azerbaijani forces[14] over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh[14][15] since the 1994 ceasefire after the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Armenian sources accused Azerbaijan of trying to take advantage of ongoing unrest in Armenia. Azerbaijani sources blamed Armenia, claiming that the Armenian government was trying to divert attention from internal tensions in Armenia.

Following the incident, on March 14 the United Nations General Assembly by a recorded vote of 39 in favour to 7 against adopted Resolution 62/243, demanding the immediate withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.[16]

2010 violence

The February 2010 Nagorno-Karabakh skirmish was a scattered exchange of gunfire that took place on February 18 on the line of contact dividing Azerbaijani and the Karabakh Armenian military forces. Azerbaijan accused the Armenian forces of firing on the Azerbaijani positions near Tap Qaraqoyunlu, Qızıloba, Qapanlı, Yusifcanlı and Cavahirli villages, as well as in uplands of Agdam Rayon with small arms fire including snipers.[17][18] As a result, three Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and one wounded.[19]

The 2010 Mardakert skirmishes were a series of violations of the Nagorno-Karabakh War ceasefire. They took place across the line of contact dividing Azerbaijan and the ethnic Armenian military forces of the unrecognized but de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Both sides accused the other of violating the ceasefire regime. These were the worst violations of the cease fire (which has been in place since 1994) in two years and left Armenian forces with the heaviest casualties since the Mardakert skirmishes of March 2008.[20]

Between 2008 and 2010, 74 soldiers were killed on both sides.[11]

2011–2013 continued fighting

On 10 March 2011, a 10-year-old Azerbaijani boy was killed by Armenian sniper fire.[21]

In late April 2011, border clashes left three Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers dead,[22] while on 5 October, two Azeri and one Armenian soldier were killed.[23] In all during the year, 10 Armenian soldiers were killed.[24]

The following year, border clashes between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place from late April through early June. The clashes resulted in the deaths of five Azeri and four Armenian soldiers. In all during 2012, 19 Azeri and 14 Armenian soldiers were killed.[25] Another report put the number of Azeri dead at 20.[10]

Throughout 2013, 12 Azeri and 7 Armenian soldiers were killed in border clashes.[25]

2014 clashes and helicopter shootdown

In 2014, several border clashes erupted that had resulted in 16 fatalities on both sides by 20 June.[26]

On 2 August, Azeri authorities announced that eight of their soldiers had been killed in three days of clashes with NKO forces, the biggest single death toll for the country's military since the 1994 war.[27] NKO denied any casualties on their side, while saying the Azeris had suffered 14 dead and many more injured.[27] Local officials in Nagorno-Karabakh reported at least two Armenian military deaths in what was the largest incident in the area since 2008.[28] Five more Azeri troops were killed the following night, bringing the death toll from the August clashes to at least 15. The violence prompted Russia to issue a strong statement, warning both sides not to escalate the situation further.[29]

By August 5, 2014 the fighting that started on 27 July had left 14 Azeri and 5 Armenian soldiers dead. Overall, 27 Azeri soldiers had died since the start of the year in border clashes.[30]

In a separate incident in July 2014, the NKR Defense Army announced that troops had killed one and arrested two members of an Azerbaijani subversive group that had penetrated the contact line.[31] In addition to spying on Armenian troop movements and military installations and civilian settlements in Karvachar (Kelbajar), the team was charged with the murder of Smbat Tsakanyan, a seventeen-year-old Armenian boy and resident of the village of Jumen. Both surviving members of the group were sentenced to life in prison by an Armenian court. In July 2015, video footage recorded by the team was released to the public and aired on Armenian state television.[32]

On November 12, 2014, the Azerbajani armed forces shot down a Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army Mil Mi-24 helicopter over Karabakh's Agdam district. Three servicemen were killed in the incident. Armenia’s Defense Ministry stated the aircraft was unarmed and called its downing an “unprecedented provocation.” Azeri authorities claimed the helicopter was “trying to attack” Azeri army positions.[33] Armenian authorities stated that Azerbaijan will face "grave consequences".[34] With the crash, 2014 became the deadliest year for Armenian forces since the 1994 ceasefire agreement, with 27 soldiers killed in addition to 34 fatalities on the Azeri side.[35] Six Armenian civilians also died in 2014, while by the end of the year the number of Azeris killed rose to 39 (37 soldiers and 2 civilians).[10]

2015 sporadic fighting

In 2015, 42 Armenian soldiers and 5 civilians were killed as border clashes continued.[36] In addition, at least 35 Azerbaijani soldiers also died.[37][38]

Sporadic fighting primarily took place in: January,[39] June,[40] August,[41] September,[42][43] November[44] and throughout December.[38][45]

2016 clashes

Throughout January and February 2016, four Armenian and four Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in fighting at the Nagorno-Karabakh border.[46] The first casualty of 2016 was a Nagorno-Karabakh soldier Aramayis Voskanian, who was killed by Azeri sniper fire while serving in the eastern direction of the Line of Contact.[47][48] In mid-February, Hakob Hambartsumyan, an Armenian herdsman from Vazgenashen, was killed by an Azeri sniper.[49] In March, two Azerbaijani and one Armenian soldier were killed in clashes along the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.[50][51]

Between 1 and 5 April 2016, heavy fighting along the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline left 88 Armenian and 31–92 Azerbaijani soldiers dead. One Armenian and three Azeri soldiers were also missing. In addition, 10 civilians (six Azeri and four Armenian) were also killed.[52][53] During the clashes, an Azeri military helicopter, 13 unmanned drones were shot down[54] and an Azeri tank wes destroyed.[55]

Between 8 and 17 May 2016, sporadic fighting left 14 Armenian and three Azeri soldiers dead, as well as one Azeri civilian.[56][57]

Fatalities

Year Armenia Azerbaijan Total
2008 N/A N/A 30 soldiers[11]
2009 N/A N/A 19 soldiers[11]
2010 7 soldiers[58] 18 soldiers 25 soldiers[11]
2011 10 soldiers[24] 4+ soldiers,[11][23] 1 civilian[21] 14+ soldiers, 1 civilian
2012 14 soldiers 20 soldiers 34 soldiers[10]
2013 7 soldiers 12 soldiers 19 soldiers[25]
2014 27 soldiers, 6 civilians 37 soldiers, 2 civilians 64 soldiers, 8 civilians[10]
2015 42 soldiers, 5 civilians[36] 35 soldiers[37][38] 77 soldiers, 5 civilians
2016 107 soldiers, 5 civilians[46][49][51][52][56] 40–101 soldiers, 7 civilians[46][50][53][57] 147–208 soldiers, 12 civilians

See also

References

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  2. Putin Tells Armenia and Azerbaijan to Cool It After Fighting Erupts in Disputed Region, Vice News. 2 April 2016.
  3. "Russia Tightens Its Hold on Armenia". Stratfor. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  4. Nailia Bagirova and Hasmik Mkrtchyan (5 April 2016). "Warring sides declare ceasefire over Nagorno-Karabakh". Reuters. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  5. Nagorno-Karabakh: Russia's Proxy War in the Caucasus, Fletchersecurity.org
  6. The Bad Blood Between Russia and Turkey Is Spreading to Armenia and Azerbaijan Vice News. 3 December 2015.
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    Karabakh soldier killed in Azerbaijan’s attacks overnight
    Azerbaijan Resumes Shelling of Martakert, Killing 3
    Two Karabakh soldiers killed as Azerbaijan violates ceasefire
    Armenian soldier killed in Azeri firing
    Two killed in Karabakh after Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to respect ceasefire
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