Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict isn’t spooking energy markets. Yet

Indian Express
Sept 28 2020
by Bloomberg

With weeks to go before Azerbaijan is due to start piping gas to the European Union, a decades-old conflict with its Eurasian neighbor Armenia is flaring up again. So far, oil and gas markets have yet to be spooked by the conflict — perhaps because global energy demand was drastically reduced by the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning producers the world over have spare capacity should the worst-case scenario arise — the bombing of the pipeline and an ensuing environmental disaster. In normal times, a material disruption would likely boost energy prices.

EXPLAINED | Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are at loggerheads over Nagorno-Karabakh again

The conflict centers on the Nagorno-Karabakh region claimed by both countries. In theory, it has the potential to disrupt oil and gas flows from Azerbaijan, since export pipelines from the Caspian Sea region’s second-biggest crude producer run within just 10 miles of its border with Armenia.

Azerbaijan exports the vast majority of its crude oil through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to an export terminal on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Additional volumes are pumped to the Black Sea port of Supsa in Georgia. Natural gas exports flow through the South Caucasus pipeline to Georgia and Turkey, and are due to reach EU markets later this year. All three run in parallel through Azerbaijan.

Most of the oil and gas pumped through the lines is produced by two consortia led by BP Plc, which lift oil from the Azeri, Chirag and Gunashli fields and gas from the Shah Deniz deposit in the Caspian Sea. Small volumes of crude from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the eastern shore of the Caspian are also pumped through the BTC pipeline. It has a capacity of 1.2 million barrels a day, but carries less than half that in practice. Another 80,000 barrels a day flow to Supsa.

Azerbaijan also pumps gas through an export pipeline that runs alongside its oil conduits. In 2019, the country delivered 9.2 billion cubic meters (325 billion cubic feet) of gas to Turkey through the South Caucasus Pipeline. That line is part of the 4,000 km, U.S.-backed, Southern Gas Corridor, which cost BP and partners around $40 billion to build. Azerbaijan is due to begin gas deliveries to Italy and Greece through the line next month. Those flows could meet abut 3% of the EU’s gas imports, although the bloc has ample sources of alternative supplies.

ALSO READ | Azerbaijan’s parliament approves martial law, curfews, says president’s aide

While the proximity of the pipelines to the border puts them at potential risk, Armenia has not attacked the lines during previous escalations in the conflict between the two countries, which has been simmering for almost 30 years.

Importantly, the coronavirus has led to a surplus of oil and gas production capacity worldwide. Oil demand will be 7.1% lower this quarter than it was a year earlier, according to the International Energy Agency. Nations including Saudi Arabia and Russia responded to that weakness by pumping less crude, but if called for, they could easily bring those barrels back onto the market.

Back in June, the IEA was predicting a 4% drop in gas consumption this year, twice the decline seen during the 2008-09 financial crisis. That only exacerbated a glut that already existed because of excess supply.

Hard to Hit Buried up to two meters below the ground, the pipelines wouldn’t make easy targets, and Armenia would certainly be blamed for any environmental damage resulting from a breach.

In 2008, Georgia’s National Security Council claimed the BTC line was targeted by Russian missiles, an allegation Russia denied. An earlier attack on the line in Turkey, claimed by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, closed the line for several weeks in the same year.

Azerbaijan has few alternatives to ship its crude, and none for its gas. Some oil could be sent for export via a pipeline to Russia, but that would depend on being able to strike a deal with its northern neighbor, which has traditionally sided with Armenia in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Oil markets, though, don’t seem particularly worried by any potential disruption to exports of Azeri crude, with Brent crude little changed on the day and volumes low. Natural gas futures are similarly becalmed.

Ample supplies in the Mediterranean of the type of light, sweet crude produced by Azerbaijan may be helping to mitigate oil-market concerns. Those supplies could rise further in the coming weeks if Libya succeeds in boosting flows as a result of a political truce in its civil war.


CNN: Armenia and Azerbaijan are clashing over a disputed region. Here’s what you need to know

CNN News
Sept 28 2020

(CNN)The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh has run hot and cold since the 1994 ceasefire — one of several "frozen conflicts" that blight the post-Soviet world. Yet this weekend's clashes mark a new height in rhetoric and signs of intent.

It has many concerned that a tit-for-tat cycle of border clashes, usually diffused by international diplomacy, may continue unabated and spark a longer, nastier war.
    Control over the mountainous area of Nagorno-Karabakh. Populated and controlled by ethnic Armenians, and aided by the Armenian diaspora, it sits inside Azerbaijani territory, connected to Armenia proper by a costly highway. It is heavily militarized and its forces have been backed by Armenia, which has a security alliance with Russia. Azerbaijan has long claimed it will retake the territory, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani. Control over the area has become a point of nationalist — almost existential — pride in both countries.
    It's unclear what started this latest escalation. Azerbaijan says Armenia provoked them with aggression. Armenia says Azerbaijani forces attacked. Tensions have risen since July, when several days of clashes rocked the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. These clashes killed 11 Azerbaijani soldiers and one civilian, Azerbaijan said, and prompted tens of thousands of protesters to take to the streets of Baku, demanding the region's recapture. Turkey, seeking an enhanced regional role and an ally of the ethnically Turkic Azerbaijanis, has been offering support — perhaps military — and loudly backed Azerbaijan's claims.
    The normal rhythm of this conflict would anticipate diplomacy to rush in and calm the guns after 48 hours of blood-letting. But that hasn't happened yet, and the opposite is fast becoming true. Armenia declared martial law Sunday and mobilized all its forces. Azerbaijan followed with martial law Sunday, and partial mobilization Monday.
    Baku has long said it would retake the area and has oil riches to spend on forces to achieve those same ends. The conflict is so overlooked and little-known in the outside world, that some speculate the fighting may spiral out of control, with Washington too distracted and inward-looking to muster its full diplomatic might to stop it. The US has had a deputy secretary of state call both sides to "urge both sides to cease hostilities immediately," and President Donald Trump has said "we'll see if we can stop it."
    Again, Turkey and Russia find themselves on opposing sides of a febrile front line. Like in Syria and Libya, their proxies — mercenaries or allied armies — are battling for control of parts of a Middle East, or Caucasus, where a lighter US footprint has imbalanced the delicate distribution of power. Turkey has been particularly effusive in its encouragement of Azerbaijan, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying on Twitter that Armenia has "once again proven that it is the biggest threat to peace and serenity in the region. The Turkish nation continues to stand by its Azerbaijani brothers and sisters with all its means, as it has always done."
    The Kremlin has been a calmer force, with President Vladimir Putin calling Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and noting "it is important now to take all necessary efforts to prevent a military escalation of the confrontation, and most importantly — to stop military operations." But Moscow is a long-term supporter of Armenia, in weapons and diplomacy, and will be unlikely to tolerate Turkey imposing its will in its former Soviet area of influence. Putin also has a good relationship with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.
    But enmity is building, given the ongoing violence in Syria, where Turkish-backed Syrian fighters are pushing against Moscow's ally, the Syrian regime. Similar tensions are growing in Libya, where Turkey is backing the Tripoli-based government with Syrian mercenaries, and Russia has sent Wagner mercenaries, according to US officials, to assist rival forces that control the East. Both Moscow and Ankara seem to spy an opening in Washington's disinterest in being the regional superpower, and Nagorny-Karabakh is the latest, longest-contested, least-expected venue for this clash to play out.
      Everyone wants calm, but nobody on the front Iines is listening yet. NATO has said both "sides should immediately cease hostilities," and added "there is no military solution to this conflict." The EU demanded an "immediate cessation of hostilities, de-escalation and for strict observance of the ceasefire" that had been coordinated by the OSCE's Minsk Group.
      Yet four years of Trump's disengagement, the pandemic, Russia's increased confidence and Turkey's bold regional posturing have created a new dynamic where the old norms can be discarded and destructive opportunities sought. Even if diplomacy suddenly shuts the fighting down in the coming hours, the renewed vigor of rhetoric on both sides means this could flare up again soon.



Deadly Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes unlikely to cause an oil spike, analyst says

CNBC
Sept 28 2020
 
 
 
PUBLISHED MON, SEP 28 20208:14 AM EDT
Dan Murphy
Hadley Gamble
 
Fighting has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the long-disputed Nagorno Karabakh region, resulting in both sides reporting fatalities.
Azerbaijan is a major energy producer and hosts critical pipelines transporting oil and gas to the global markets.
Analysts are playing down fears rising tensions could lead to a material disruption to regional energy production or output.
 
 
Deadly clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are unlikely to result in major disruptions to energy production and supplies, analysts say, despite the region being a critical corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to the global markets.
 
“There is not really much anticipation that this will boil over into something more serious for oil and commodity markets,” Edward Bell, a senior director at Dubai-based Emirates NBD bank, told CNBC.
 
“If the geopolitical premium is not already in the price, I don’t think we’re going to see much reaction here on in,” Bell added, despite a worry that recent clashes could impact production or pipeline facilities, which have been subject to illegal taps, attack and sabotage during periods of heightened tension in the past.
 
The clashes between the two former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus are the latest flare-up of a long-running conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan run by ethnic Armenians.
 
At the weekend, Armenia said Azerbaijan had carried out an air and artillery attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, but Azerbaijan said it had responded to Armenian shelling, according to NBC News, which has not been able to independently confirm the number of injuries or fatalities.
 
 
 
Critical pipelines on watch as conflict evolves
 
Azerbaijan is the 24th largest crude oil producer in the world and a significant producer of natural gas, which both account for more than 90% of Azerbaijan’s exports. Its pipelines make it a strategic gateway to oil and gas in the Caspian and a growing source of energy security for Europe.
 
Azerbaijan has three crude oil export pipelines. The largest is the 1,768-km-long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which transports crude and condensates through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It has two main gas export pipelines, including the 693 km South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) that transports gas from the Shah Deniz field through Georgia to Turkey parallel to the BTC crude oil pipeline, according to the IEA.
 
Even so, Bell says the risk of further military action might not be enough to prompt a commodity price spike.
 
“I think oil markets have become very attuned and very good at pricing in what is an actual disruption to output that would prompt prices going higher,” he said, suggesting that even a brief interruption to output or disruption to a pipeline would easily be recovered given the vast amount of spare crude and gas production capacity elsewhere around the world.  
 
A lower for longer recovery?
 
Crude oil traded in a tight range with a positive bias on Monday. Brent and WTI both fell 2% last week, with investors growing increasingly anxious that oil demand will fail to recover if countries reintroduce further Covid-19 restrictions.  
 
“The risks are to the downside at the moment,” said Bell, who expects prices to continue on a similar trajectory in the fourth quarter of this year.
 
“Market sentiment is somber due to surging infection rates and escalating U.S.-China tension,” analysts at ANZ said. “New Covid-19 case numbers are accelerating in major U.S. states, renewing fears of mobility restrictions challenging the ongoing oil demand recovery in the last quarter,” ANZ added.
 
More crude is also being exported from Libya, which opened several export terminals and said production could rise significantly before the end of the year.
 
 
 
 

Deadly Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes unlikely to cause an oil spike, analyst says

CNBC
Sept 28 2020
 
 
 
PUBLISHED MON, SEP 28 20208:14 AM EDT
Dan Murphy
Hadley Gamble
 
Fighting has erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the long-disputed Nagorno Karabakh region, resulting in both sides reporting fatalities.
Azerbaijan is a major energy producer and hosts critical pipelines transporting oil and gas to the global markets.
Analysts are playing down fears rising tensions could lead to a material disruption to regional energy production or output.
 
 
Deadly clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan are unlikely to result in major disruptions to energy production and supplies, analysts say, despite the region being a critical corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to the global markets.
 
“There is not really much anticipation that this will boil over into something more serious for oil and commodity markets,” Edward Bell, a senior director at Dubai-based Emirates NBD bank, told CNBC.
 
“If the geopolitical premium is not already in the price, I don’t think we’re going to see much reaction here on in,” Bell added, despite a worry that recent clashes could impact production or pipeline facilities, which have been subject to illegal taps, attack and sabotage during periods of heightened tension in the past.
 
The clashes between the two former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus are the latest flare-up of a long-running conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region of Azerbaijan run by ethnic Armenians.
 
At the weekend, Armenia said Azerbaijan had carried out an air and artillery attack on Nagorno-Karabakh, but Azerbaijan said it had responded to Armenian shelling, according to NBC News, which has not been able to independently confirm the number of injuries or fatalities.
 
 
 
Critical pipelines on watch as conflict evolves
 
Azerbaijan is the 24th largest crude oil producer in the world and a significant producer of natural gas, which both account for more than 90% of Azerbaijan’s exports. Its pipelines make it a strategic gateway to oil and gas in the Caspian and a growing source of energy security for Europe.
 
Azerbaijan has three crude oil export pipelines. The largest is the 1,768-km-long Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, which transports crude and condensates through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It has two main gas export pipelines, including the 693 km South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP) that transports gas from the Shah Deniz field through Georgia to Turkey parallel to the BTC crude oil pipeline, according to the IEA.
 
Even so, Bell says the risk of further military action might not be enough to prompt a commodity price spike.
 
“I think oil markets have become very attuned and very good at pricing in what is an actual disruption to output that would prompt prices going higher,” he said, suggesting that even a brief interruption to output or disruption to a pipeline would easily be recovered given the vast amount of spare crude and gas production capacity elsewhere around the world.  
 
A lower for longer recovery?
 
Crude oil traded in a tight range with a positive bias on Monday. Brent and WTI both fell 2% last week, with investors growing increasingly anxious that oil demand will fail to recover if countries reintroduce further Covid-19 restrictions.  
 
“The risks are to the downside at the moment,” said Bell, who expects prices to continue on a similar trajectory in the fourth quarter of this year.
 
“Market sentiment is somber due to surging infection rates and escalating U.S.-China tension,” analysts at ANZ said. “New Covid-19 case numbers are accelerating in major U.S. states, renewing fears of mobility restrictions challenging the ongoing oil demand recovery in the last quarter,” ANZ added.
 
More crude is also being exported from Libya, which opened several export terminals and said production could rise significantly before the end of the year.
 
 
 
 

Explainer: Why has conflict erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

The Journal, Ireland
Sept 28 2020
AFP

ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN, two ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasus, are locked in a decades-long territorial dispute – with deadly new fighting erupting yesterday.

These were the fiercest clashes in the area since 2016, when 110 people were killed. Dozens of people were killed this weekend, sparking international calls to halt the fighting. 

Both Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh (the breakaway region involved in the dispute) declared martial law and military mobilisation, while Azerbaijan imposed military rule and a curfew in large cities.

Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and majority-Christian Armenia threatened to embroil regional players Russia and Turkey. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on global powers to prevent Ankara’s involvement.

France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union swiftly urged an “immediate ceasefire”. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “extremely concerned” and urged the sides to stop fighting and return to talks.

The US State Department said it had contacted the two countries and called on them to “use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation”. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the military flare-up with Pashinyan and called for “an end to hostilities”.

In a televised address to the nation yesterday, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev vowed victory over Armenian forces.

The latest news has even led Kim Kardashian West – whose father was Armenian – to weigh in. 

She claimed that Armenia was the victim of unprovoked attacks, and that the news around the issue was “misleading”. She also called for the cutting of all US military aid to Azerbaijan.

Some raised fears about the conflict escalating.  “We are a step away from a large-scale war,” Olesya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group told AFP.

“One of the main reasons for the current escalation is a lack of any proactive international mediation … for weeks.”

But why are these two countries involved in an intense and long-running conflict?

Here’s a look at some of the key issues surrounding the issue.

Nagorny Karabakh

At the heart of the standoff between the Armenian capital Yerevan and Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, is the contested Nagorny Karabakh region.

The Soviet authorities merged the predominantly ethnic Armenian territory with Azerbaijan in 1921. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenian separatists seized it in a move supported by Yerevan.

An ensuing war left 30,000 dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Despite a ceasefire mediated in 1994 by Russia, the United States and France, peace negotiations struggle to move forward and fighting erupts frequently.

The latest clashes at the weekend saw Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists accuse each other of igniting the fighting that left both sides with casualties, including civilians.

It followed a flare-up along the border in July which claimed the lives of 17 soldiers from both sides. In April 2016, some 110 people were killed in the most serious fighting in years.

Revolts and dynasty

Armenia, a Christian country since the fourth century, has been rocked by political and economic instability since it gained independence from the former USSR.

The country’s post-Soviet leadership repressed opposition to its rule, was accused of falsifying ballot results, and was largely beholden to the interests of Russia.

In the spring of 2018, mass street protests brought current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to power. He has since cracked down on corruption and introduced popular judicial reforms.

Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, meanwhile, on the Caspian Sea, has been under the authoritarian grip of a single family since 1993. Heydar Aliyev, a former officer of the Soviet security services, the KGB, ruled the country with an iron fist until October 2003.

He handed over power to his son, Ilham, weeks before his death. Like his father, Ilham has quashed all opposition to his rule and in 2017 made his wife, Mehriban, the country’s first vice president.

Russia and Turkey

What about the roles of Turkey and Russia in the conflict?

Turkey, with ambitions to be regional powerbroker in the Caucasus, has thrown its weight behind oil-rich and Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan.

Their alliance is fuelled by a mutual mistrust of Armenia. Ankara routinely issues strongly worded statements in support of Baku’s ambitions to reclaim Nagorny Karabakh.

Yerevan harbours hostility towards Turkey over the massacres of some 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey under the Ottoman Empire during World War I. More than 30 countries have recognised the killings as genocide, though Ankara fiercely disputes the term.

Russia, which maintains close ties with Armenia, is the major powerbroker in the region. It leads the Collective Security Treaty Organisation military alliance of ex-Soviet countries that includes Armenia.

Yerevan relies on Russian support and military guarantees, because its defence budget is overshadowed by Azerbaijan’s spending on arms.

Oil and diaspora

Azerbaijan has recently begun leveraging oil revenues as part of a bid to overhaul its image in the West.

Baku has invested in massive sponsorship deals including with the Euro 2020 football championship (which was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic). Baku was due to host matches this year and Azerbaijan has held Formula 1 Grand Prix races since 2016.

Azerbaijan has also tried to pitch itself to European countries as an alternative energy supplier to Russia.

On the international stage, Armenia has a vast and influential diaspora that fled during the Ottoman-era repressions.

Kim Kardashian, the late singer Charles Aznavour, and pop star and actress Cher all trace their roots to Armenia. Some have appointed themselves unofficial ambassadors, like Kardashian who has been outspoken on the issue of the Armenian genocide.

AFP

Explainer: Why has conflict erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

The Journal, Ireland
Sept 28 2020
AFP

ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN, two ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasus, are locked in a decades-long territorial dispute – with deadly new fighting erupting yesterday.

These were the fiercest clashes in the area since 2016, when 110 people were killed. Dozens of people were killed this weekend, sparking international calls to halt the fighting. 

Both Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh (the breakaway region involved in the dispute) declared martial law and military mobilisation, while Azerbaijan imposed military rule and a curfew in large cities.

Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and majority-Christian Armenia threatened to embroil regional players Russia and Turkey. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called on global powers to prevent Ankara’s involvement.

France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union swiftly urged an “immediate ceasefire”. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “extremely concerned” and urged the sides to stop fighting and return to talks.

The US State Department said it had contacted the two countries and called on them to “use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation”. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the military flare-up with Pashinyan and called for “an end to hostilities”.

In a televised address to the nation yesterday, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev vowed victory over Armenian forces.

The latest news has even led Kim Kardashian West – whose father was Armenian – to weigh in. 

She claimed that Armenia was the victim of unprovoked attacks, and that the news around the issue was “misleading”. She also called for the cutting of all US military aid to Azerbaijan.

Some raised fears about the conflict escalating.  “We are a step away from a large-scale war,” Olesya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group told AFP.

“One of the main reasons for the current escalation is a lack of any proactive international mediation … for weeks.”

But why are these two countries involved in an intense and long-running conflict?

Here’s a look at some of the key issues surrounding the issue.

Nagorny Karabakh

At the heart of the standoff between the Armenian capital Yerevan and Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, is the contested Nagorny Karabakh region.

The Soviet authorities merged the predominantly ethnic Armenian territory with Azerbaijan in 1921. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenian separatists seized it in a move supported by Yerevan.

An ensuing war left 30,000 dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Despite a ceasefire mediated in 1994 by Russia, the United States and France, peace negotiations struggle to move forward and fighting erupts frequently.

The latest clashes at the weekend saw Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists accuse each other of igniting the fighting that left both sides with casualties, including civilians.

It followed a flare-up along the border in July which claimed the lives of 17 soldiers from both sides. In April 2016, some 110 people were killed in the most serious fighting in years.

Revolts and dynasty

Armenia, a Christian country since the fourth century, has been rocked by political and economic instability since it gained independence from the former USSR.

The country’s post-Soviet leadership repressed opposition to its rule, was accused of falsifying ballot results, and was largely beholden to the interests of Russia.

In the spring of 2018, mass street protests brought current Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to power. He has since cracked down on corruption and introduced popular judicial reforms.

Muslim-majority Azerbaijan, meanwhile, on the Caspian Sea, has been under the authoritarian grip of a single family since 1993. Heydar Aliyev, a former officer of the Soviet security services, the KGB, ruled the country with an iron fist until October 2003.

He handed over power to his son, Ilham, weeks before his death. Like his father, Ilham has quashed all opposition to his rule and in 2017 made his wife, Mehriban, the country’s first vice president.

Russia and Turkey

What about the roles of Turkey and Russia in the conflict?

Turkey, with ambitions to be regional powerbroker in the Caucasus, has thrown its weight behind oil-rich and Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan.

Their alliance is fuelled by a mutual mistrust of Armenia. Ankara routinely issues strongly worded statements in support of Baku’s ambitions to reclaim Nagorny Karabakh.

Yerevan harbours hostility towards Turkey over the massacres of some 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey under the Ottoman Empire during World War I. More than 30 countries have recognised the killings as genocide, though Ankara fiercely disputes the term.

Russia, which maintains close ties with Armenia, is the major powerbroker in the region. It leads the Collective Security Treaty Organisation military alliance of ex-Soviet countries that includes Armenia.

Yerevan relies on Russian support and military guarantees, because its defence budget is overshadowed by Azerbaijan’s spending on arms.

Oil and diaspora

Azerbaijan has recently begun leveraging oil revenues as part of a bid to overhaul its image in the West.

Baku has invested in massive sponsorship deals including with the Euro 2020 football championship (which was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic). Baku was due to host matches this year and Azerbaijan has held Formula 1 Grand Prix races since 2016.

Azerbaijan has also tried to pitch itself to European countries as an alternative energy supplier to Russia.

On the international stage, Armenia has a vast and influential diaspora that fled during the Ottoman-era repressions.

Kim Kardashian, the late singer Charles Aznavour, and pop star and actress Cher all trace their roots to Armenia. Some have appointed themselves unofficial ambassadors, like Kardashian who has been outspoken on the issue of the Armenian genocide.

AFP

Armenia says Turkey is sending drones and warplanes to Azerbaijan

The National, UAE
Sept 28 2020

Fighting that erupted in the early hours of Sunday killed at least 24 people

Turkey sent military experts, drones and warplanes to reinforced the Azerbaijan in fighting with neighbouring Armenia over disputed territory, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The Armenian parliament accused Turkey of interfering in the conflict, which Azerbaijan denied.

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh has killed dozens and raged into Monday morning with heavy artillery used by both sides.

The Armenian defence ministry reported fighting throughout the night, while its counterpart in Azerbaijan said Armenian forces were shelling the town of Terter.

Karabakh President Arayik Harutyunyan said Turkey was providing mercenaries and warplanes.

“The war has already … [gone] beyond the limits of a Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict,” he said.

The skirmishes have raised the spectre of a new war between the ex-Soviet rivals, locked since the early 1990s in a stalemate over the Armenia-backed breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Seventeen Armenian separatist fighters were killed and more than 100 wounded in the fighting, Mr Harutyunyan said, conceding that his forces had lost positions.

Both sides also reported civilian casualties.

“We are tired of Azerbaijan’s threats, we will fight to the death to resolve the problem once and for all,” Artak Bagdasaryan, 36, told AFP in Yerevan.

He was waiting to be conscripted into the army, he said.

Karabakh separatists said one Armenian woman and a child were killed, while Baku said an Azerbaijani family of five died in shelling by Armenian separatists.

Azerbaijan claimed it captured a strategic mountain in Karabakh that helps control transport links between Yerevan and the enclave.

Armenian defence ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan, in turn, said Karabakh rebel forces killed about 200 Azerbaijani troops and destroyed 30 enemy artillery units and 20 drones.

Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and Christian-majority Armenia threatened to embroil regional players Russia and Turkey, with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan calling on global powers to prevent Ankara’s involvement.

“We are on the brink of a full-scale war in the South Caucasus,” Mr Pashinyan said.

France, Germany, Italy and the EU swiftly urged an immediate ceasefire, while Pope Francis prayed for peace.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his deep concern on Sunday and “strongly called for an immediate end to hostilities”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was also extremely concerned and urged the sides to stop fighting and return to talks.

The US State Department said it had contacted the two countries and called on them to “use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the military flare with Mr Pashinyan and called for an end to hostilities.

But Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey blamed Yerevan for the fighting and promised Baku its full support.

“The Turkish people will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means as always,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted.

Azerbaijan accused Armenian forces of breaching a ceasefire, saying it had launched a counteroffensive to “ensure the safety of the population”, using tanks, artillery missiles and drones.

In a televised address to the nation earlier on Sunday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev vowed victory over Armenian forces.

“Our cause is just and we will win,” he said, echoing Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s address at the outbreak of the Second World War.

“Karabakh is Azerbaijan.”

Armenia and Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilisation. Azerbaijan imposed military rule and a curfew in cities.

Armenia said that Azerbaijan attacked civilian settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh including the main city, Stepanakert.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said there were reports of dead and wounded. “Extensive damage has been inflicted on many homes and civilian infrastructure,” it said.

Ethnic Armenian separatists seized the Nagorno-Karabakh region from Baku in the 1990s, a war in which 30,000 were killed.

Talks to resolve one of the worst conflicts to emerge from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union have been largely stalled since a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

France, Russia and the US have mediated peace efforts as the Minsk Group, but the last big push for a peace deal collapsed in 2010.

“We are a step away from a large-scale war,” Olesya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group told AFP.

“One of the main reasons for the current escalation is a lack of any proactive international mediation … for weeks.”

On Sunday morning, Azerbaijan started bombing Karabakh’s front line, including civilian targets, and Stepanakert, Karabakh’s presidency said.

The rebel defence ministry said its troops shot down four Azerbaijani helicopters and 15 drones, which Baku denied.

In July, heavy clashes along the countries’ shared border – hundreds of kilometres from Karabakh – killed an Azerbaijani civilian and at least 16 soldiers in total, with losses on both sides.

During clashes in April 2016, about 110 people were killed.


Armenia says Turkey is sending drones and warplanes to Azerbaijan

The National, UAE
Sept 28 2020

Fighting that erupted in the early hours of Sunday killed at least 24 people

Turkey sent military experts, drones and warplanes to reinforced the Azerbaijan in fighting with neighbouring Armenia over disputed territory, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The Armenian parliament accused Turkey of interfering in the conflict, which Azerbaijan denied.

Fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh has killed dozens and raged into Monday morning with heavy artillery used by both sides.

The Armenian defence ministry reported fighting throughout the night, while its counterpart in Azerbaijan said Armenian forces were shelling the town of Terter.

Karabakh President Arayik Harutyunyan said Turkey was providing mercenaries and warplanes.

“The war has already … [gone] beyond the limits of a Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict,” he said.

The skirmishes have raised the spectre of a new war between the ex-Soviet rivals, locked since the early 1990s in a stalemate over the Armenia-backed breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Seventeen Armenian separatist fighters were killed and more than 100 wounded in the fighting, Mr Harutyunyan said, conceding that his forces had lost positions.

Both sides also reported civilian casualties.

“We are tired of Azerbaijan’s threats, we will fight to the death to resolve the problem once and for all,” Artak Bagdasaryan, 36, told AFP in Yerevan.

He was waiting to be conscripted into the army, he said.

Karabakh separatists said one Armenian woman and a child were killed, while Baku said an Azerbaijani family of five died in shelling by Armenian separatists.

Azerbaijan claimed it captured a strategic mountain in Karabakh that helps control transport links between Yerevan and the enclave.

Armenian defence ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan, in turn, said Karabakh rebel forces killed about 200 Azerbaijani troops and destroyed 30 enemy artillery units and 20 drones.

Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and Christian-majority Armenia threatened to embroil regional players Russia and Turkey, with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan calling on global powers to prevent Ankara’s involvement.

“We are on the brink of a full-scale war in the South Caucasus,” Mr Pashinyan said.

France, Germany, Italy and the EU swiftly urged an immediate ceasefire, while Pope Francis prayed for peace.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his deep concern on Sunday and “strongly called for an immediate end to hostilities”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was also extremely concerned and urged the sides to stop fighting and return to talks.

The US State Department said it had contacted the two countries and called on them to “use the existing direct communication links between them to avoid further escalation”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the military flare with Mr Pashinyan and called for an end to hostilities.

But Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey blamed Yerevan for the fighting and promised Baku its full support.

“The Turkish people will support our Azerbaijani brothers with all our means as always,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted.

Azerbaijan accused Armenian forces of breaching a ceasefire, saying it had launched a counteroffensive to “ensure the safety of the population”, using tanks, artillery missiles and drones.

In a televised address to the nation earlier on Sunday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev vowed victory over Armenian forces.

“Our cause is just and we will win,” he said, echoing Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s address at the outbreak of the Second World War.

“Karabakh is Azerbaijan.”

Armenia and Karabakh declared martial law and military mobilisation. Azerbaijan imposed military rule and a curfew in cities.

Armenia said that Azerbaijan attacked civilian settlements in Nagorno-Karabakh including the main city, Stepanakert.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said there were reports of dead and wounded. “Extensive damage has been inflicted on many homes and civilian infrastructure,” it said.

Ethnic Armenian separatists seized the Nagorno-Karabakh region from Baku in the 1990s, a war in which 30,000 were killed.

Talks to resolve one of the worst conflicts to emerge from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union have been largely stalled since a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

France, Russia and the US have mediated peace efforts as the Minsk Group, but the last big push for a peace deal collapsed in 2010.

“We are a step away from a large-scale war,” Olesya Vartanyan of the International Crisis Group told AFP.

“One of the main reasons for the current escalation is a lack of any proactive international mediation … for weeks.”

On Sunday morning, Azerbaijan started bombing Karabakh’s front line, including civilian targets, and Stepanakert, Karabakh’s presidency said.

The rebel defence ministry said its troops shot down four Azerbaijani helicopters and 15 drones, which Baku denied.

In July, heavy clashes along the countries’ shared border – hundreds of kilometres from Karabakh – killed an Azerbaijani civilian and at least 16 soldiers in total, with losses on both sides.

During clashes in April 2016, about 110 people were killed.


Why are Armenia and Azerbaijan fighting and what are the implications?

The Guardian, UK
Sept 28 2020

Tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh region have caused one of Europe’s ‘frozen conflicts’ to erupt

Michael Safi

Early on Sunday, Armenia announced it was declaring martial law, mobilising its army and ordering civilians to shelter. It claimed its neighbour Azerbaijan had launched a military operation inside a disputed region called Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan said it attacked only in response to Armenian shelling.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised internationally as Azerbaijan’s territory but has a mostly Armenian population who have resisted Azerbaijani rule for more than a century. In 1991 the region declared independence and since then it has ruled itself – with Armenian support – as the unrecognised Republic of Artsakh.

Despite signs in the past two years of possible progress towards peace, one of Europe’s “frozen conflicts” has erupted again. Since Sunday, forces from Nagorno-Karabakh along with the Armenian military have been fighting Azerbaijani troops, armour and aircraft. At least two dozen people have been killed including civilians, and hundreds more are said to be injured. Azerbaijan has claimed to have taken territory inside Nagorno-Karabakh, a claim the Armenians dispute, and it appears to be a fluid situation on the ground.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous, landlocked region inside the borders of Azerbaijan, has been a source of dispute since before the creation of the Soviet Union. Tensions were suppressed when both Armenia and Azerbaijan were Soviet states, but they re-emerged as the cold war ended and Communist party control of the bloc dissolved.

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A war between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces ended in a ceasefire in 1994, with Armenia in full control of Nagorno-Karabakh and other smaller enclaves of Azerbaijan’s territory.

The border between the two is considered one of the most militarised in the world, said Laurence Broers, the Caucasus programme director at Conciliation Resources, a peace-building group.

“We have a situation where we have trench warfare going on in Europe more than 100 years after the first world war,” he said. “In some areas the lines are so close they can hear and potentially talk to one another.”

Azerbaijan is majority Muslim and Armenia is majority Christian, and some elements on both sides seek to cast the conflict in religious terms, though analysts say this angle is exaggerated (Azerbaijan, for example, maintains strong defence ties with Israel).



Why are Armenia and Azerbaijan fighting and what are the implications?

The Guardian, UK
Sept 28 2020

Tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh region have caused one of Europe’s ‘frozen conflicts’ to erupt

Michael Safi

Early on Sunday, Armenia announced it was declaring martial law, mobilising its army and ordering civilians to shelter. It claimed its neighbour Azerbaijan had launched a military operation inside a disputed region called Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan said it attacked only in response to Armenian shelling.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognised internationally as Azerbaijan’s territory but has a mostly Armenian population who have resisted Azerbaijani rule for more than a century. In 1991 the region declared independence and since then it has ruled itself – with Armenian support – as the unrecognised Republic of Artsakh.

Despite signs in the past two years of possible progress towards peace, one of Europe’s “frozen conflicts” has erupted again. Since Sunday, forces from Nagorno-Karabakh along with the Armenian military have been fighting Azerbaijani troops, armour and aircraft. At least two dozen people have been killed including civilians, and hundreds more are said to be injured. Azerbaijan has claimed to have taken territory inside Nagorno-Karabakh, a claim the Armenians dispute, and it appears to be a fluid situation on the ground.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous, landlocked region inside the borders of Azerbaijan, has been a source of dispute since before the creation of the Soviet Union. Tensions were suppressed when both Armenia and Azerbaijan were Soviet states, but they re-emerged as the cold war ended and Communist party control of the bloc dissolved.

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A war between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces ended in a ceasefire in 1994, with Armenia in full control of Nagorno-Karabakh and other smaller enclaves of Azerbaijan’s territory.

The border between the two is considered one of the most militarised in the world, said Laurence Broers, the Caucasus programme director at Conciliation Resources, a peace-building group.

“We have a situation where we have trench warfare going on in Europe more than 100 years after the first world war,” he said. “In some areas the lines are so close they can hear and potentially talk to one another.”

Azerbaijan is majority Muslim and Armenia is majority Christian, and some elements on both sides seek to cast the conflict in religious terms, though analysts say this angle is exaggerated (Azerbaijan, for example, maintains strong defence ties with Israel).