Conflict Flares Up Between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Photo courtesy of Sergey Isakhanyan on

Masamichi Sasanuma and Eric Wang

On September 27th, shelling from Azerbaijan artillery hit the disputed region of Norgono-Korobakh. 18 people (including a woman and a child) were killed, and a hundred more were injured. In response to the shelling, Armenia fired back, killing 5 Azeris. 

Azerbaijan claimed that the artillery shelling was in response to Armenian artillery fire, but Armenia counterclaimed this by stating that the attack was unprovoked. The Azerbaijan government declared war as the Armenian government declared martial law. Currently, both sides have been continuously shelling each other. These shelling targets are mostly areas populated by civilians. 

On October 4th, Azerbaijan reported the shelling of Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second-largest city. Armenia, in response, claimed that the artillery was aimed at Ganja’s military airport and that any shells missing were collateral damage. 

Armenia also reported shelling on the capital of Norgono-Korobakh, Stepanakert. Amnesty International confirmed the reports of Azerbaijan’s forces using Israelian-made cluster munition bombs on residential areas. Cluster munition bombs are indiscriminate and therefore also illegal under international law. 

The has been an ongoing dispute between the two countries for about a hundred years. Up until 1918, both Azerbaijan and Armenia (including the disputed region of  Norgono-Korobakh) were part of the Russian Empire. After the Russian Empire collapsed, the First Republic of Armenia and the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic were formed. Both claimed the region of Norgono-Koronakh.

A conflict was instigated in 1920 between the two countries but never ended as the USSR reclaimed the area in 1923. The USSR gave the region to Azerbaijan SSR and granted the region political autonomy. As the USSR began to collapse, the region’s population and legislation were dominated mostly by Armenians, who voted for the region to join the Armenia SSR.

When the USSR collapsed, both Armenia and Azerbaijan returned to their normal states. The region’s legislature held a referendum without the approval of the Azerbaijan Government. The ethnic Azerbaijan population decided to boycott the referendum, which meant that 99.98% voted for independence. In 1992, war erupted in the region again between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A ceasefire was agreed to in 1994 but ended when Armenia took the region, which made up about 20% of Azerbaijan’s total landmass. About 8000 Armenians and 25,000 Azerbaijanis were killed.

The region continues to be disputed. Most of the international community recognizes that the region is part of Azerbaijan. However, it is controlled by the Republic of Artsakh (Armenia).

The current conflict has been the deadliest in the region since the ’90s. One global impact that could occur in the foreseeable future is the displacement of refugees into neighboring countries. Additionally,  France and Turkey are at odds with each other due to France supporting Armenia and Turkey supporting Azerbaijan.

Turkey has accused Emmanuel Macron (President of France) of backing up Armenia’s “occupation” of Nagorno Karabakh, while Emmanuel Macron has condemned Turkey’s political statements as dangerous.