Thursday, December 17, 2020

Clashes Continuing in Qarabagh Because of Confusion over Areas of Control

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 15 – Ending a military conflict is typically far more difficult than starting it, especially if the basis for an end or a suspension is not a detailed agreement with mutually agreed upon maps but rather, as in the case of the fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a simple declaration that leaves many issues unresolved.

            The November 10 joint statement of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia specified that Armenian and Azerbaijani forces would remain where they were with the exception that Armenian forces would withdraw from Kelbadzhar, Lachin and several other districts.

            Russian peacekeepers meanwhile would take up positions between them and along certain corridors. Not surprisingly, each side had its own ideas on exactly what the facts on the ground are and even its own maps which at least in some cases did not correspond to the maps others possessed.

            In such a situation, as the RBC news agency notes, clashes between the sides were likely inevitable even if all sides were committed to acting with good will rather than pushing the envelope to see how far they can go and what the response of the other two sides will be  (

            One case of this involved Azerbaijani forces compelling Russian peacekeepers to move back from positions that the latter had taken once it was shown that the Russians were in violation of the agreement, at least as far as Azerbaijan is concerned (

            Such misunderstandings and clashes are likely to decline in number over time, but each of them represents a potential flash point that could reignite the fighting. As such, monitoring what is taking place at a micro-level is essential if the November 10 declaration is to become the basis for the settlement many hope for.

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