Exploring the Frozen Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh: A Look into the Past and Present (2014)

I spent a lovely afternoon at one of the many parks in Tbilisi on Eristavi street. I was surprised to see that there were many American people living or walking around the area. I had some free time and decided to buy an English newspaper, but I was disappointed to find out that all the newspapers and magazines at the stands were in Georgian. When I asked if they had any Russian newspapers, I was offered a crossword puzzle.

I continued my search for a newspaper in English or Russian and finally found a stand that sold newspapers in Russian, including Argumenti i Fakti, Komsomolskaja Pravda, and Soversheno Sekretno. I asked the salesperson which one was the best seller, and she recommended Soversheno Sekretno. I took the newspaper and went back to the park to read.

One of the articles I read was about the Frozen Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Although I usually do not hold newspapers like Soversheno Sekretno in high regard due to their subjective nature, I must admit that the opinions expressed in this newspaper coincided with my own thoughts.

Regarding Nagorno-Karabakh, the article claimed that the territory was transferred to Russia after the Turkmenchay peace treaty was signed by Russia and Iran in the 18th century. The territory was mainly populated by Turkish-speaking people, possibly related to the modern-day Azerbaijanis. The Russian government then relocated Armenian people to the area, making them the majority.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a regional war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, lasting for three years and resulting in 15,000 casualties. A cease-fire was signed in 1994, with Armenia gaining control over Nagorno-Karabakh and seven Azerbaijan districts.

The peace treaty has never been signed, and over time, the two countries have become more brazen in their threats against each other. Armenia has found a "Big Brother" in Russia and joined the Collective Security forces, meaning there is a Russian army base located in Gyumri, Armenia. Armenia has also decided to join the Eurasian Union with Russia instead of building an uncertain future with the European Union.

On one hand, Russia provides ammunition, credit, and other resources to Armenia in exchange for control over Armenian companies. On the other hand, Azerbaijan pays market price for brand new, high-tech ammunition from Russia.

Who benefits from the frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? It is clear that the answer is Russia. Until Armenia and Azerbaijan sit down and talk, the conflict will remain frozen, and Russia's role in the South Caucasus will continue to grow.