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Nagorno-Karabakh War
Armenianshushi.jpg Members of the Armenian "Dashnak battalion" celebrate the capture of Shusha in front of Ghazanchetsots Cathedral
Date 1988–1994
Location Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan
Result Armenian military victory

Ceasefire treaty (Bishkek Protocol) signed in 1994 by representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan (still in effect)

Nagorno-Karabakh became a de facto independent republic, while remaining a de jure part of Azerbaijan

Peace talks are held between the two nations to decide the future of the disputed territory

Flag of Nagorno-Karabakh.svg Nagorno-Karabakh

Supported by:
Flag of Armenia.svg Armenia
Flag of the CIS.svg CIS mercenaries

Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Azerbaijan

Supported by:
Flag of Jihad.svg Mujahideen[1]
Flag of the CIS.svg CIS mercenaries

Flag of Nagorno-Karabakh.svg Samvel Babayan
Flag of Nagorno-Karabakh.svg Monte Melkonian
Flag of Armenia.svg Hemayag Haroyan
Flag of Armenia.svg Vazgen Sargsyan
Flag of Nagorno-Karabakh.svg Arkady Ter-Tatevosyan
Flag of Nagorno-Karabakh.svg Anatoly Zinevich
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Isgandar Hamidov
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Surat Huseynov
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg Rahim Gaziyev
Flag of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.svg Shamil Basayev[2]
Flag of Jihad.svg Gulbuddin Hekmatyar[1][3]
20,000 72,000 [4]

Flag of Jihad.svg 2,000-3,000 Mujahideen

Casualties and losses
Wounded: 25,000
196 [5]
4,210[8] (Disputed)
Civilian Deaths:
  • 1264 Armenian civilians (including citizens of Armenia)[5]
  • The exact number of the Azerbaijani civilian deaths is unknown as it has never been made official and is, probably, included in the overall death-toll and/or the number of missing civilians

'Civilians Missing:'

  • Karabakh State Commission lists 400 civilians[8]
  • Azerbaijani State Commission lists 749 civilians[8]
Nagorno-Karabakh is currently a de facto independent republic in the South Caucasus, but is officially recognized as part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict that took place from February 1988 to May 1994, in the small enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh(I) in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. As the war progressed, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet Republics, entangled themselves in a protracted, undeclared war in the mountainous heights of Karabakh as Azerbaijan attempted to curb the secessionist movement in Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave's parliament had voted in favor of uniting itself with Armenia and a referendum was held, and the vast majority of the Karabakh population voted in favor of independence. The demand to unify with Armenia, which proliferated in the late 1980s, began in a relatively peaceful manner; however, in the following months, as the Soviet Union's disintegration neared, it gradually grew into an increasingly violent conflict between ethnic Armenians and ethnic Azerbaijanis, resulting in claims of ethnic cleansing by all sides.[9 ][10]

Inter-ethnic fighting between the two broke out shortly after the parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) in Azerbaijan, voted to unify the region with Armenia on February 20, 1988. The declaration of secession from Azerbaijan was the final result of a territorial conflict regarding the land.[11] The circumstances of the dissolution of the Soviet Union facilitated an Armenian separatist movement in Azerbaijan. As Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave's government, the Armenian majority voted to secede from Azerbaijan and in the process proclaimed the enclave the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.[12]

Full-scale fighting erupted in the late winter of 1992. International mediation by several groups including Europe's OSCE failed to bring an end resolution that both sides could work with. In the spring of 1993, Armenian forces captured regions outside the enclave itself, threatening the involvement of other countries in the region.[13] By the end of the war in 1994, the Armenians were in full control of most of the enclave and also held and currently control approximately 9% of Azerbaijan's territory outside the enclave.[14] As many as 230,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan and 800,000 Azeris from Armenia and Karabakh have been displaced as a result of the conflict.[15] A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in May 1994 and peace talks, mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, have been held ever since by Armenia and Azerbaijan.



The territorial ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh today is still heavily contested between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Called Artsakh by Armenians, its history spans over two millennia, during which it came under the control of several empires. The current conflict, however, has its roots in events following World War I. Shortly before the Ottoman Empire's capitulation in the war, the Russian Empire collapsed in November 1917 and fell under the control of the Bolsheviks. The three nations of the Caucasus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, previously under the rule of the Russians, declared their independence to form the Transcaucasian Federation which dissolved after only three months of existence.[7]

Armenian-Azerbaijani war

History of Nagorno-Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh region.png
This article is part of a series
Ancient History
Middle Ages
Principality of Khachen
Kingdom of Artsakh
Melikdoms of Karabakh
Modern Era
Persian Karabakh
Karabakh Khanate
Russian Karabakh
Early 20th Century
History (1918-1923)
Soviet Rule
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast
Nagorno-Karabakh War
Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh

   v • d •  e 

Fighting soon broke out between the Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan in three specific regions: Nakhichevan, Zangezur (today the Armenian province of Syunik) and Karabakh itself. Armenia and Azerbaijan quarreled as to where the boundaries would fall in accordance to the three provinces. The Karabakh Armenians attempted to declare their independence but failed to make contact with the Republic of Armenia.[7] After the defeat of Ottoman empire in World War I, British troops occupied the South Caucasus in 1919. The British command provisionally affirmed Khosrov bey Sultanov (an appointee of the Azerbaijan government) as the governor-general of Karabakh and Zangezur, pending a final decision by the Paris Peace Conference.[16]

Soviet division

Two months later however, the Soviet 11th Army invaded the Caucasus and within three years, the Caucasian republics were formed into the Transcaucasian SFSR of the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks thereafter created a seven-member committee, the Caucasus Bureau (often shortened to Kavburo). Under the supervision of the People's Commissar for Nationalities, the future Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin, the Kavburo was tasked to head up matters in the Caucasus.[17] Although the committee voted 4–3 in favor of allocating Karabakh to the newly created Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia, protestations made by Azerbaijani leaders including the Communist Party leader of Azerbaijan Nariman Narimanov and an anti-Soviet rebellion in the Armenian capital Yerevan in 1921 embittered relations between Armenia and Russia. These factors led the committee to reverse its decision and award Karabakh to Soviet Azerbaijan in 1921 and later incorporated the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) within the Azerbaijan SSR in 1923,[7] leaving it with a population that was 94% Armenian.[18][19] The capital was moved from Shusha to Khankendi, which was later renamed as Stepanakert.

Armenian and Azeri scholars have speculated that the decision was an application by Russia of the principle of "divide and rule".[7] This can be seen, for example, by the odd placement of the Nakhichevan exclave, which is separated by Armenia but is a part of Azerbaijan. Others have also postulated that the decision was a goodwill gesture by the Soviet government to help maintain "good relations with Atatürk's Turkey."[20] Armenia had always refused to recognize this decision and continued to protest its legality throughout the ensuing decades under Soviet rule.[11] To that end, Armenians began insisting that their national rights had been suppressed and their cultural and economic freedoms curtailed in Nagorno-Karabakh.[21]

February 1988, the revival of the Karabakh issue

As the new general secretary of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, came to power in 1985, he began implementing his plans to reform the Soviet Union. These were encapsulated in two policies, perestroika and glasnost. While perestroika had more to do with economic reform, glasnost or "openness" granted limited freedom to Soviet citizens to express grievances about the Soviet system itself and its leaders. Capitalizing on this, the leaders of the Regional Soviet of Karabakh decided to vote in favor of unifying the autonomous region with Armenia on February 20, 1988.[22] Karabakh Armenian leaders complained that the region had neither Armenian language textbooks in schools nor in television broadcasting,[23] and that Azerbaijan's Communist Party General Secretary Heydar Aliyev had extensively attempted to "Azerify" the region and increase the influence and the number of Azeris living in Nagorno-Karabakh, while at the same time reducing its Armenian population (in 1987, Aliyev would step down as General Secretary of Azerbaijan's Politburo).[24] By 1988, the Armenian population of Karabakh had dwindled to nearly three-quarters of the total population.[25]

The movement was spearheaded by popular Armenian figures and also members of the Russian intelligentsia, such as the dissident and Nobel Laureate Andrei Sakharov. Prior to the declaration, Armenians had begun to protest and stage workers' strikes in Yerevan, demanding a unification with the enclave. This prompted Azeri counter-protests in Baku. In reaction to the protests, Gorbachev stated that the borders between the republics would not change, in accordance with Article 78 of the Soviet constitution.[26] Gorbachev also stated that several other regions in the Soviet Union were yearning for territorial changes and redrawing the boundaries in Karabakh would thus set a dangerous precedent. Armenians viewed the 1921 Kavburo decision with disdain and felt that in their efforts, they were correcting a historical error under the principle of self-determination, a right also granted in the constitution.[26] Azeris, on the other hand, found such calls for relinquishing their territory by the Armenians unfathomable and aligned themselves with Gorbachev's position.[27]


Images showing burnt automobiles and marauding rioters on the streets of the industrial city of Sumgait during the pogrom there in February 1988.

Ethnic infighting soon broke out between Armenians and Azerbaijanis living in Karabakh. On February 22, 1988, a direct confrontation between Azerbaijanis and Armenians, near the town of Askeran (located on the road between Stepanakert and Agdam) in Nagorno-Karabakh, degenerated into a skirmish. During the clashes two Azerbaijani youths were killed. One of them was probably shot by a local policeman, purportedly an Azerbaijani, either by accident or as a result of a quarrel[7][28] On February 27, 1988, while speaking on Baku's central television, the Soviet Deputy Procurator Alexander Katusev mentioned the nationality of those killed.

The Askeran clash was the prelude to pogroms in Sumgait, where emotions, already heightened by news about the Karabakh crisis, turned even uglier in a series of protests starting February 27, 1988. Speaking at the rallies, Azerbaijani refugees from the Armenian town of Ghapan accused Armenians of "murder and atrocities including raping women and cutting their breasts off";[27] these allegations were later disproved and many of the speakers were revealed to be agents provocateurs.[29] Within hours, a pogrom against Armenian residents began in Sumgait, a city some 25 kilometers north of Baku, where some 2,000 Azerbaijani refugees from Armenia were settled.[30] The pogroms resulted in the deaths of 32 people, according to official Soviet statistics, although many Armenians feel that the figure was understated by the Soviet media, as nearly all of Sumgait's Armenian population left the city after the pogrom. Armenians were beaten, raped and killed both on the streets of Sumgait and inside their apartments in three days of violence that only subsided when Soviet armed forces entered the city and quelled much of the rioting on March 1.[31]

The manner in which many Armenians were killed reverberated amongst Armenians elsewhere who felt the pogrom was backed by government officials to intimidate those involved in the Karabakh movement. Violence slowly began to escalate after Sumgait as Gorbachev finally decided to send Soviet Interior troops to Armenia in September 1988. By October 1989, over 100 people were estimated to have been killed since the revived idea of unification with Karabakh in February 1988.[32] The issue had been temporarily postponed when on December 7, 1988, a devastating earthquake hit Armenia, leveling the towns of Leninakan (now Gyumri) and Spitak and killing an estimated 25,000 people.[33]

Gorbachev's attempts to stabilize the region were to no avail, as both sides were equally intransigent. Armenians refused to allow the issue to subside despite concessions made by Gorbachev, including a promise of a 400 million-ruble package to introduce Armenian language textbooks and television programming in Karabakh. At the same time, Azerbaijan was unwilling to cede any territory to Armenia. Furthermore, the newly formed Karabakh Committee, which comprised eleven members including the future president of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrossian, were jailed by Moscow officials in the ensuing chaos after the earthquake. Such actions polarized relations between Armenia and the Kremlin; Armenians lost faith in Gorbachev, despising him even more because of his mishandling of the earthquake aftermath and his uncompromising stance on Nagorno-Karabakh.[34]

Black January

A car crushed by a Soviet tank in Baku during Black January.

Inter-ethnic strife began to take a toll on both countries' populations, forcing most of the Armenians in Azerbaijan to flee back to Armenia and most of the Azeris in Armenia to Azerbaijan.[11] The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh had grown so out of hand that in January 1989 the central government in Moscow temporarily took control of the region, a move welcomed by many Armenians.[7] In the summer of 1989, Popular Front leaders and their ever-increasing supporters managed to pressure the Azerbaijan SSR to instigate a railway and air blockade against Armenia, effectively crippling Armenia's economy, as 85% of the cargo and goods arrived through rail traffic (this also cut off Nakhichevan from the rest of the Soviet Union).[11] The disruption of rail service to Armenia was, according to once source, in part due to the attacks of Armenian militants on Azerbaijani train crews entering Armenia, who then began refusing to do so.[27]

In January 1990, another pogrom directed at Armenians in Baku forced Gorbachev to declare a state of emergency and send MVD troops to restore order. Amid the rising independence movement in Azerbaijan, Gorbachev dispatched the military to dragoon the events, as the Soviet regime inched close to collapse. Soviet troops received orders to occupy Baku at midnight on January 20 1990. City residents, who saw tanks coming at about 5 AM said the troops were the first to open fire.[35] The Shield Report, an independent commission from the USSR military procurator's office, rejected the military claims of returning fire, finding no evidence that those manning the barricades on the roads to Baku were armed.[35] A curfew was established and violent clashes between the soldiers and the surging Azerbaijan Popular Front were common, in one instance over 120 Azeris and eight MVD soldiers were killed in Baku.[36] During this time, however, Azerbaijan's Communist Party had fallen and the belated order to send the MVD forces had more to do with keeping the Party in power than to protect the city's Armenian population.[37] The events, referred to as "Black January", also strained the relations between Azerbaijan and the central government.

Fighting spread through other cities in Azerbaijan, including, in December 1988, in Kirovabad and Nakhichevan, where seven people (four of them soldiers) were killed and hundreds injured when Soviet army units attempted once more to stop attacks directed at Armenians.[38]

Operation Ring

In the spring of 1991, President Gorbachev held a special countrywide referendum called the Union Treaty which would decide if the Soviet republics would remain together. Newly elected, non-communist leaders had come to power in the Soviet republics, including Boris Yeltsin in Russia (Gorbachev remained the President of the Soviet Union), Levon Ter-Petrossian in Armenia and Ayaz Mutalibov in Azerbaijan. Armenia and five other republics boycotted the referendum (Armenia would hold its own referendum and declared its independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 1991), whereas Azerbaijan voted in compliance to the Treaty.[11]

As many Armenians and Azeris in Karabakh began an arms build up (by acquiring weaponry located in caches throughout Karabakh) in order to defend themselves, Mutalibov touted support from Gorbachev in launching a joint military operation in order to disarm Armenian militants in the region. Known as Operation Ring, the operation forcibly deported Armenians living in villages in the region of Shahumyan. It was perceived by both Soviet officials from the Kremlin and from the Armenian government as a method of intimidating the Armenian populace to giving up their demands for unification.[11]

The Operation Ring proved counter-productive to what it had originally sought to accomplish. Its violent character only reinforced the belief among Armenians that the only solution to the Karabakh conflict was through outright armed resistance. The initial Armenian resistance inspired volunteers who started forming irregular volunteer detachments.[7]

Weapons vacuum

From top clockwise: The 366th's barracks on fire after being shelled by Azeri artillery; Armenian officers negotiating with soldiers in the 366th to turn over any vehicles left in their armory; an MT-LBT exiting their motor pool with artillery in tow; MT-LBT crew at hatches.

As the disintegration of the Soviet Union became a reality for Soviet citizens in the autumn of 1991, both sides sought to acquire weaponry from military caches located throughout Karabakh. The initial advantage tilted in Azerbaijan's favor. During the Cold War, the Soviet military doctrine for defending the Caucasus had outlined a strategy where Armenia would be a combat zone in the case NATO member Turkey invaded from the west. Thus, in the Armenian SSR only three divisions and no airfields had been established while the Azeri SSR had a total of five divisions and five military airfields. Furthermore, Armenia had approximately 500 railroad cars of ammunition in comparison to Azerbaijan's 10,000.[39]

As MVD forces began pulling out, they bequeathed the Armenians and Azerbaijanis a vast arsenal of ammunition and stored armored vehicles. The government forces initially sent by Gorbachev three years earlier were from other republics of the Soviet Union and many had no wish to remain any longer. Most were poor, young conscripts and many simply sold their weapons for cash or even vodka to either side, some even trying to sell tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs). The unsecured weapons caches led both sides to blame and mock Gorbachev's policies as the ultimate cause of the conflict.[40] The Azeris purchased a large quantity of these vehicles, as reported by the Azeri Foreign Ministry in November 1993, which said it had acquired 286 tanks, 842 armored vehicles and 386 artillery pieces from the power vacuum.[7] Several black markets also sprang up which included weaponry from the West.[41]

Further evidence also showed that Azerbaijan received substantial military aid and provisions from Israel, Iran, Turkey and numerous Arab countries.[33] Most weaponry was Russian-made or came from the former Eastern bloc countries however some improvisation was made by both sides. The Armenian Diaspora managed to donate a significant amount of money to be sent to Armenia and even managed to push for legislation in the United States Congress to pass a bill entitled Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act in response to Azerbaijan's blockade against Armenia, restricting a complete ban on military aid from the United States to Azerbaijan in 1992.[42] While Azerbaijan charged that the Russians were initially helping the Armenians, it was said that "the Azeri fighters in the region [were] far better equipped with Soviet military weaponry than their opponents."[40]

With Gorbachev resigning as Soviet General-Secretary on December 26, 1991, the remaining republics including Ukraine, Belarus and Russia declared their independence and the Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 31, 1991. This dissolution gave way to any barriers that were keeping Armenia and Azerbaijan from waging a full scale war. One month prior, on November 21, the Azerbaijani Parliament rescinded Karabakh's status as an autonomous region and renamed its capital "Xankandi". In response, on December 10, a referendum was held in Karabakh by parliamentary leaders (with the local Azeri community boycotting it) where the Armenians voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence. On January 6, 1992, the region declared its independence from Azerbaijan.[11]

The withdrawal of the Soviet interior forces from Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus region was only temporary. By February 1992, the former Soviet states consolidated as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). While Azerbaijan abstained from joining, Armenia, fearing a possible invasion by Turkey in the escalating conflict, entered the CIS which would have protected it under a "collective security umbrella". In January 1992, the CIS forces then moved in and established a headquarters at Stepanakert and took up a slightly more active role in peacekeeping, incorporating old units including the 366th Motorized Rifle Regiment and 4th Army.[17]

Building armies

The grave of Garo "the White Bear" Kaqhedjian, an Armenian, at Yerablur cemetery. Kaqhedjian was one of many Armenians from the Diaspora who volunteered to go and fight in the Karabakh conflict.

The sporadic battles between Armenians and Azeris had intensified after Operation Ring recruited thousands of volunteers into improvised armies from both Armenia and Azerbaijan. In Armenia, a recurrent and popular theme at the time compared and idolized the separatist fighters to historical Armenian guerrilla groups and revered individuals such as Andranik Ozanian and Garegin Njdeh, who fought against the Ottoman Empire during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[7] In addition to the government's conscription of males aged 18–45, many Armenians volunteered to fight and formed tchokats, or detachments, of about forty men, which combined with several others were under the command of a Lieutenant Colonel. Initially, many of these men chose when and where to serve and acted on their own behalf, rarely with any oversight, when attacking or defending areas.[33] Direct insubordination was common as many of the men simply did not show up, looted the bodies of dead soldiers and commodities such as diesel oil for armored vehicles disappeared only to be sold in black markets.[33]

Many women enlisted in the Armenian military, taking part in the fighting as well as serving in auxiliary roles such as providing first-aid and evacuating wounded men from the battlefield.

Azerbaijan's military functioned in much the same manner; however, it was better organized during the first years of the war. The Azeri government also carried out conscription and many Azeris enthusiastically enlisted for combat in the first months after the Soviet Union collapsed. Azerbaijan's National Army consisted of roughly 30,000 men, in addition to nearly 10,000 in its OMON paramilitary force and several thousand volunteers from the Popular Front. Suret Huseynov, a wealthy Azeri, also improvised by creating his own military brigade, the 709th of the Azerbaijani Army and purchasing many weapons and vehicles from the 23rd Motor Rifle Division's arsenal.[7] İsgandar Hamidov's bozkurt or Grey Wolves brigade also mobilized for action. The government of Azerbaijan also poured a great deal of money into hiring mercenaries from other countries through the revenue it was making from its oil field assets on and near the Caspian Sea.[43]

Former troops of the Soviet Union also offered their services to either side. For example, one of the most prominent officers to serve on the Armenian side was former Soviet General Anatoly Zinevich, who remained in Nagorno-Karabakh for five years (1992 – 1997) and was involved in planning and implementation of many operations of the Armenian forces. By the end of war he held the position of Chief of Staff of the NKR armed forces. The estimated amount of manpower and military vehicles each entity involved in the conflict had in the 1993–1994 time period was:[44]

Entity Military Personnel Artillery Tanks Armored personnel carriers Armored fighting vehicles Fighter aircraft
Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh 20,000 16 13 120 N/A N/A
Republic of Armenia 20,000 170 160 240 200 N/A
Republic of Azerbaijan 42,000 330 280 360 480 170

In an overall military comparison, the number of men eligible for military service in Armenia, in the age group of 17–32, totaled 550,000, while in Azerbaijan it was 1.3 million. Most men from both sides had served in the Soviet Army and so had some form of military experience prior to the conflict. Among Karabakh Armenians, about 60% had served in the Soviet Army.[44] Most Azeris, however, were often subject to discrimination during their service in the Soviet military and relegated to work in construction battalions rather than fighting corps.[45] Despite the establishment of two officer academies including a naval school in Azerbaijan, the lack of such military experience was one factor that rendered Azerbaijan unprepared for the war.[45]

Spring 1992, Early Armenian victories

Khojaly Massacre

Memorial to the victims of Khojaly Massacre in Baku.

The Khojaly Massacre of Azeri civilians became the deadliest carnage of the conflict.[46] Officially the newly created Republic of Armenia publicly denied any involvement in providing any weapons, fuel, food, or other logistics to the secessionists in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, Ter-Petrossian later did admit to supplying them with logistical supplies and paying the salaries of the separatists but denied sending any of its own men to combat. Armenia faced a debilitating blockade by the now Republic of Azerbaijan as well as pressure from neighboring Turkey, which decided to side with Azerbaijan and build a closer relationship with it.[47] The only land connection Armenia had with Karabakh was through the narrow mountainous Lachin corridor which could only be reached by helicopters. The region's only airport was in the small town of Khojaly, which was seven kilometers north of Stepanakert with an estimated population of 6,000–10,000 people. Additionally, Khojaly had been serving as an artillery base and since February 23, was shelling Armenian and Russian units in the capital.[27] By late February, Khojaly had largely been cut off. On February 26, Armenian forces, with the aid of armored vehicles in the 366th, mounted an offensive to capture Khojaly.

According to the Azerbaijani side and the affirmation of other sources including Human Rights Watch, the Moscow based human rights organization Memorial and the biography of a leading Armenian commander, Monte Melkonian, documented and published by his brother,[48] after Armenian forces captured Khojaly, they proceeded to kill several hundred civilians evacuating from the town. Armenian forces had previously stated they would attack the city and leave a land corridor for them to escape through. However, when the attack began, the attacking Armenian force easily outnumbered and overwhelmed the defenders who along with the civilians attempted to retreat north to the Azeri held city of Agdam. The airport's runway was found to have been intentionally destroyed, rendering it temporarily useless. The attacking forces then went on to pursue those fleeing through the corridor and opened fire upon them, killing scores of civilians.[48] Facing charges of an intentional massacre of civilians by international groups, Armenian government officials denied the occurrence of a massacre and asserted an objective of silencing the artillery coming from Khojaly.[49] An exact body count was never ascertained but conservative estimates have placed the number to 485.[7] The official death toll provided by Azerbaijani authorities for casualties suffered during the events of February 25–26 is 613 civilians, of them 106 women and 83 children.[50] On March 3, 1992, the Boston Globe reported over 1,000 people had been slain over four years of conflict. It quoted the Mayor of Khojaly, Elmar Mamedov, as also saying 200 more were missing, 300 were held hostage and 200 injured in the fighting.[51 ] A report published in 1992 by the human rights organization Helsinki Watch however stated that their inquiry found that the Azerbaijani OMON and "the militia, still in uniform and some still carrying their guns, were interspersed with the masses of civilians" which may have been the reason why Armenian troops fired upon them.[52]

An Azerbaijani paramilitary oversees the torching of an Armenian village in Nagorno-Karabakh in the winter of 1992.

The capture of Shusha

Armenian children standing next to the rubble of a building in Stepanakert after a shelling barrage.

In the aftermath of Khojaly Massacre, in Azerbaijan, president Ayaz Mutalibov was forced to resign on March 6, 1992, under public pressure for his failure to protect and evacuate civilians in Khojaly. In the ensuing months after the capture of Khojaly, Azeri commanders holding out in the region's last bastion of Shusha began a large scale artillery bombardment with GRAD rocket launchers against Stepanakert. By April, the shelling had forced many of the 50,000 people living in Stepanakert to seek refuge in underground bunkers and basements.[40] Facing ground incursions near the city's outlying areas, military leaders in Nagorno-Karabakh organized an offensive to take the town.

On May 8, a force of several hundred Armenian troops accompanied by tanks and helicopters attacked the Shusha citadel. Fierce fighting took place in the town's streets and several hundred men were killed on both sides. Overwhelmed by the numerically superior fighting force, the Azeri commander in Shusha ordered a retreat and fighting ended on May 9.[33]

The capture of Shusha resonated loudly in neighboring Turkey. Its relations with Armenia had grown better after it had declared its independence from the Soviet Union; however, they gradually worsened as a result of Armenia's gains in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. A deep resentment towards Turkey by Armenia predated the Soviet era and this enmity stemmed in part from the Armenian Genocide.[34] Many Armenians collectively referred to Azeris as "Turks" since they are considered ethnic cousins. Turkey's prime minister, Suleyman Demirel said that he was under intense pressure by his people to have his country intervene and aid Azerbaijan. Demirel however, was opposed to such an intervention, saying that Turkey's entrance into the war would trigger an even greater Muslim-Christian conflict (Turks are overwhelmingly Muslims).[53]

Turkey never did actively contribute troops to Azerbaijan but did send a great deal of military aid and advisers. In May 1992, the military commander of the CIS forces, Marshal Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, issued a warning to Western nations, especially the United States, to not interfere with the conflict in the Caucasus, stating it would "place us [the Commonwealth] on the verge of a third world war and that cannot be allowed."[11]

A Chechen contingent, led by Shamil Basayev, was one of the units to participate in the conflict. According to Azeri Colonel Azer Rustamov, in 1992, "hundreds of Chechen volunteers rendered us invaluable help in these battles led by Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduev."[54] Basayev was said to be one of the last fighters to leave Shusha. According to Russian news reports Basayev later said during his career, he and his battalion had only lost once and that defeat came in Karabakh in fighting against the "Dashnak battalion."[54] He later said he pulled his mujahideen out of the conflict when the war seemed to be more for nationalism than for religion.[54]

Sealing Lachin

Armenian forces in the May 1992 move in to secure the Lachin corridor. The capture of Lachin allowed Armenia to send in supply convoys to aid the Karabakh separatists and also opened up a route for Armenian refugees to evacuate through.
Azeri artillery shelling Armenian positions in the onset of the 1992 summer offensive.

The loss of Shusha led the Azeri parliament to lay the blame on Mamedov, which removed him from power and cleared Mutalibov of any responsibility after the loss of Khojaly, reinstating him as President on May 15, 1992. Many Azeris saw this act as a coup in addition to the cancellation of the parliamentary elections slated in June of that year. The Azeri parliament at that time was made up of former leaders from the country's communist regime and the losses of Khojaly and Shusha only aggrandized their desires for free elections.[11]

To contribute to the turmoil, an offensive was launched by Armenian forces on May 18 to take the city of Lachin in the narrow corridor separating Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The city itself was poorly guarded and, within the next day, Armenian forces took control of the town and cleared any remaining Azeris to open the road that linked the region to Armenia. The taking of the city then allowed an overland route to be connected with Armenia itself with supply convoys beginning to trek up the mountainous region of Lachin to Karabakh.[55]

The loss of Lachin was the final blow to Mutalibov's regime. Demonstrations were held despite Mutalibov's ban and an armed coup was staged by Popular Front activists. Fighting between government forces and Popular Front supporters escalated as the political opposition seized the parliament building in Baku as well as the airport and presidential office. On June 16, 1992, Abulfaz Elchibey was elected leader of Azerbaijan with many political leaders from the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party were elected into the parliament. The instigators characterized Mutalibov as an undedicated and weak leader in the war in Karabakh. Elchibey was staunchly against receiving any help from the Russians, instead favoring closer ties to Turkey.[56]

Escalation of the conflict

Operation Goranboy

Operation Goranboy was a large scale Azerbaijani offensive in the summer of 1992 aimed at taking control over the entire Nagorno-Karabakh and putting a decisive end to the resistance. This offensive is regarded as the only successful breakthrough by the Azeri Army and marks the peek of Azerbaraijani success in the entirety of the six-year long conflict. It also marks the beginning of a new, more intense, phase of the war. Over 8,000 Azeri troops and four additional battalions, at least 90 tanks and 70 Infantry fighting vehicles, as well as Mi-24 attack-helicopters were used in this operation.

On June 12, 1992, the Azeri military first launched a large scale diversionary attack in the direction of the Askeran region at the center of Nagorno-Karabakh. Two groups of Azeris totaling 4,000 troops attacked the positions to the north and south of Askeran. As a result of fierce fighting Azeris managed to establish control over some settlements in Askeran region: Nakhichevanik, Arachadzor, Pirdzhamal, Dahraz and Agbulak. On July 4, 1992, Azeris captured the largest town in the region, Mardakert. The scale of the Azeri offensive prompted the Armenian government to openly threaten Azerbaijan that it would overtly intervene and assist the separatists fighting in Karabakh.[57] The assault forced Armenian forces to retreat south towards Stepanakert where Karabakh commanders contemplated destroying a vital hydroelectric dam in the Martakert region if the offensive was not halted. An estimated 30,000 Armenian refugees were also forced to flee to the capital as the assaulting forces had taken back nearly half of Nagorno-Karabakh. By this time Azeri forces occupied more than 40% of NKR.

However, the thrust made by the Azeris ground to a halt when their armor was driven off by helicopter gunships.[7] It was claimed that many of the crew members of the armored units in the Azeri launched assault were Russians from the 104th Guards Airborne Division based out of Ganja and, ironically enough, so were the units who eventually stopped them. According to an Armenian government official, they were able to persuade Russian military units to bombard and effectively halt the advance within a few days. This allowed the Armenian government to recuperate for the losses and reorganize a counteroffensive to restore the original lines of the front.[7] Given the reorganization of the NKR Defense Army, the tide of Azeri advances was finally stopped. By the autumn of 1992, the Azerbaijani army was exhausted and suffered heavy loses, and in February-March of the following year, the NKR Defense Army helped turn the tide into an unprecedented wave of advances.

Attempts to mediate peace

In the summer of 1992, the CSCE (later to become the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), created the Minsk Group in Helsinki which comprised eleven nations and was co-chaired by France, Russia and the United States with the purpose of mediating a peace deal with Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, in their annual summit in 1992, the organization failed to address and solve the many new problems that had arisen since the Soviet Union collapsed, much less the Karabakh conflict. The war in Yugoslavia, Moldova's war with the breakaway republic of Transnistria, the growing desire for independence from Russia by Chechen separatists and Georgia's renewed disputes with Russia, Abkhazia and Ossetia were all top agenda issues that involved various ethnic groups fighting each other.[58]

The CSCE proposed the use of NATO and CIS peacekeepers to monitor ceasefires and protect shipments of humanitarian aid being sent to displaced refugees. Several ceasefires were put into effect after the June offensive but the implementation of a European peacekeeping force, endorsed by Armenia, never came to fruition. The idea of sending 100 international observers to Karabakh was once raised but talks broke down completely between Armenian and Azeri leaders in July. Russia was especially opposed to allowing a multinational peacekeeping force from NATO to entering the Caucasus, seeing it as a move that encroached on its "backyard".[11]

Renewed fighting

In late June, a new, smaller Azeri offensive was planned, this time against the town of Martuni in the southeastern half of Karabakh. The attack force consisted of several dozen tanks and armored fighting vehicles along with a complement of several infantry companies massing along the Machkalashen and Jardar fronts near Martuni and Krasnyy Bazar. Martuni's regimental commander, Monte Melkonian, referred now by his men as "Avo", although lacking heavy armor, managed to stave off repeated attempts by the Azeri forces.[33]

Fall of Artsvashen

Satisfied with the early advances of Operation Goranboy, President of Azerbaijan Abulfez Elchibey famously announced that they will celebrate the new year at the shores of Lake Sevan, which suggested an overt invasion of Armenia proper by Azerbaijan. After four days of fierce fighting (August 4-8, 1992), Artsvashen, a small enclave belonging to the Republic of Armenia, fell to the Azeris. This was a direct invasion on the territory of Armenia by Azerbaijan and the political pressure on President Ter-Petrossyan was growing to respond to such invasion accordingly. Nevertheless, Armenia refrained from announcing war on Azerbaijan or openly entering the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by sending in its own army. Even though Azerbaijan often interprets the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as "Armenian aggression" or a "war between Armenia and Azerbaijan", Armenia's own stance has been that it has not had war with Azerbaijan since 1921 and that this is a purely internal conflict inside Azerbaijan between its Azeri majority and Armenian minority.

Establishment of State Defense Committee of NKR

In late August 1992, Nagorno-Karabakh's government found itself in a disorderly state and its members resigned on August 17. Power was subsequently assumed by a council called the State Defense Committee which was chaired by Robert Kocharyan, stating it would temporarily govern the enclave until the conflict ended.[7] At the same time, Azerbaijan also launched attacks by fixed-wing aircraft, often bombing civilian targets. Kocharyan condemned what he believed were intentional attempts to kill civilians by the Azeris and also Russia's alleged passive and unconcerned attitude towards allowing its army's weapons stockpiles to be sold or transferred to Azerbaijan.[59]

Winter thaw

As the winter of 1992 approached, both sides largely abstained from launching full scale offensives so as to reserve resources, such as gas and electricity, for domestic use. Despite the opening of an economic highway to the residents living in Karabakh, both Armenia and the enclave suffered a great deal due to the economic blockades imposed by Azerbaijan. While not completely shut off, material aid sent through Turkey arrived sporadically.[11]

Experiencing both food shortages and power shortages, after the close down of the Metsamor nuclear power plant, Armenia's economic outlook appeared bleak: in Georgia, a new bout of civil wars against separatists in Abkhazia and Ossetia began, who raided supply convoys and repeatedly destroyed the only oil pipeline leading from Russia to Armenia. Similar to the winter of 1991–1992, the 1992–1993 winter was especially cold, as many families throughout Armenia and Karabakh were left without heating and hot water.[60]

Other goods such as grain were more difficult to procure. The international Armenian Diaspora raised money and donated supplies for Armenia. In December, two shipments of 33,000 tons of grain and 150 tons of infant formula arrived from the United States via the Black Sea port of Batumi, Georgia.[60] In February 1993, the European Community sent 4.5 million ECUs to Armenia.[60] Armenia's southern neighbor Iran, also helped Armenia economically by providing power and electricity. Elchibey's oppositional stance against Iran and his remarks to unify with Iran's Azeri minority alienated relations between the two.

Azeris displaced as internal and international refugees were forced to live in makeshift camps provided by both the Azerbaijan government and Iran. The International Red Cross also distributed blankets to the Azeris and noted that by December, enough food was being allocated for the refugees.[61] Azerbaijan also struggled to rehabilitate its petroleum industry, the country's chief export. Its oil refineries were not generating at full capacity and production quotas fell well short of estimates. In 1965, the oil fields in Baku were producing 21.5 million tons of oil annually; by 1988, that number had dropped down to almost 3.3 million. Outdated Soviet refinery equipment and a reluctance by Western oil companies to invest in a war region where pipelines would routinely be destroyed prevented Azerbaijan from fully exploiting its oil wealth.[11]

Summer 1993, the war spills out

Conflicts at home

Despite the grueling winter both countries had suffered, the new year was viewed enthusiastically by both sides. Azerbaijan's President Elchibey expressed optimism towards bringing an agreeable solution to the conflict with Armenia's Ter-Petrossian. Glimmers of such hope, however, quickly began to fade in January 1993, despite the calls for a new ceasefire by Boris Yeltsin and George H. W. Bush, as hostilities in the region brewed up once more.[62] Armenian forces began a new bout of offensives that overran villages in northern Karabakh that had been held by the Azeris since the previous autumn.

Frustration over these military defeats took a toll in the domestic front in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan's military had grown more desperate and defense minister Gaziev and Huseynov's brigade turned to Russian help, a move which ran against Elchibey's policies construable as insubordination. Political infighting and arguments on where to shift military units between the country's ministry of the interior İsgandar Hamidov and Gaziev led to the latter's resignation on February 20. A political shakeup also occurred in Armenia when Ter-Petrossian dismissed the country's prime minister, Khosrov Arutyunyan and his cabinet for failing to implement a viable economic plan for the country. Protests by Armenians against Ter-Petrossian's leadership were also suppressed and put down.[63]


An Azeri man crying in the ruins of a home in Agdam after an Armenian artillery bombardment.
An Armenian engineer repairing a tank captured by Armenian forces. Note the crescent emblem on the turret of the tank.

Situated west of northern Karabakh, out of the boundaries of the region, was the rayon of Kelbajar which bordered alongside Armenia. With a population of about 45,000, the several dozen villages were made up of Azeris and Kurds. In March 1993, the Armenian-held areas near the Sarsang reservoir in Mardakert were reported to have been coming under attack by the Azeris. After successfully defending the Martuni region, Melkonian's fighters were tasked to move to capture the region of Kelbajar, where the incursions and purported artillery shelling were said to have been coming from.[33]

Scant military opposition by the Azeris allowed Melkonian's fighters to quickly gain a foothold in the region and also captured several abandoned armored vehicles and tanks. At 2:45 p.m., on April 2, Armenian forces from two different directions advanced towards Kelbajar in an attack that quickly struck against Azeri armor and troops entrenched near the Ganje-Kelbjar intersection. Azeri forces were unable to halt advances made by Armenian armor units and nearly all died defending the area. The second attack towards Kelbajar also quickly overran the defenders. By April 3, Armenian forces had captured Kelbajar.[33]

The offensive provoked international rancor against the Armenian government, marking the first time Armenian forces had crossed the boundaries of the enclave itself and into Azerbaijan's territory. On April 30, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed Resolution 822, co-sponsored by Turkey and Pakistan, affirming Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and demanding that Armenian forces withdraw from Kelbajar.[64]

The political repercussions were also felt in Azerbaijan when Huseynov embarked on his "march to Baku" from Ganje. Frustrated with what he felt was Elchibey's incompetence in dealing with the conflict and demoted from his rank of colonel, his brigade advanced towards Baku to unseat the President in early June. Elchibey stepped down from office on June 18 and power was assumed by then parliamentary member Heydar Aliyev. On July 1, Huseynov was appointed prime minister of Azerbaijan.[65]

Agdam, Fizuli, Jebrail and Zangelan fall

While the people of Azerbaijan were adjusting to the new political landscape, many Armenians were coping with the death of Melkonian who was killed earlier on June 12 in a skirmish near the town of Merzuli as his death was publicly mourned at a national level in Yerevan. The Armenian forces exploited the political crisis in Baku, which had left the Karabakh front almost undefended by the Azerbaijani forces.[7] The following four months of political instability in Azerbaijan led to the loss of control over five districts, as well as the north of Nagorno-Karabakh.[7] Azerbaijani military forces were unable to put up much resistance to Armenian advances and left most of the areas without any serious fighting.[7] In late June, they were driven out from Martakert, losing their final foothold of the enclave. By July, the Armenian forces were preparing to attack and capture the region of Agdam, another rayon nestled outside of Nagorno-Karabakh, claiming that they were attempting to bolster a greater barrier to keep Azeri artillery out of range.[66]

On July 4, an artillery bombardment was commenced by Armenian forces against the region's capital of Agdam, destroying many parts of the town. Soldiers, along with the civilians began to evacuate Agdam. Facing a military collapse, Aliev attempted to mediate with the de-facto Karabakh government and Minsk Group officials. In mid-August, Armenians massed a force to take the Azeri regions of Fizuli and Jebrail, south of Nagorno-Karabakh proper.

In light of the Armenians' advance into Azerbaijan, Turkey's prime minister Tansu Çiller, warned the Armenian government not to attack Nakhichevan and demanded that Armenians pull out of Azerbaijan's territories. Thousands of Turkish troops were sent to the border between Turkey and Armenia in early September. Russian Federation forces in Armenia countered their movements and thus warded off any possibility that Turkey might play a military role in the conflict.[67]

By early September, Azeri forces were nearly in complete disarray. Many of the heavy weapons they had received and bought from the Russians were either taken out of action or abandoned during the battles. Since the June 1992 offensive, Armenian forces captured dozens of tanks, light armor and artillery from the Azeris.[68] Further signs of Azerbaijan's desperation included the recruitment by Aliev of 1,000–1,500 Afghan and Arab mujahadeen fighters from Afghanistan. Although the Azerbaijani government denied this claim, correspondence and photographs captured by Armenian forces indicated otherwise.[11] Azerbaijan's attempts to recruit from its Lezgin and Talysh minorities was met with stiff resistance. Other sources of foreign help arrived from Pakistan and also Chechnya including guerilla fighter Shamil Basayev.[69] The United States-based petroleum company, MEGA OIL, also hired several American military trainers as a prerequisite for it to acquire drilling rights to Azerbaijan's oil fields.[43]

Air War over Karabakh

and NKR Air Force

The air war in Karabakh involved primarily fighter jets and attack helicopters. The primary transport helicopters of the war were the Mi-8 and its cousin, the Mi-17 and were used extensively by both sides. Armenia's active air force consisted of only two Su-25 ground support bombers, one of which was lost due to friendly fire. There were also several Su-22s and Su-17s; however, these aging craft took a backseat for the duration of the war.[70]

Azerbaijan's air force was composed of forty-five combat aircraft which were often piloted by experienced Russian and Ukrainian mercenaries from the former Soviet military. They flew mission sorties over Karabakh with such sophisticated jets as the Mig-25 and Sukhoi Su-24 and with older-generation Soviet fighter bombers, such as the Mig-21. They were reported to have been paid a monthly salary of over 5,000 rubles and flew bombing campaigns from air force bases in Azerbaijan often targeting Stepanakert.[70]

These pilots, like the men from the Soviet interior forces in the onset of the conflict, were also poor and took the jobs as a means of supporting their families. Several were shot down over the city by Armenian forces and according to one of the pilots' commanders, with assistance provided by the Russians. Many of these pilots faced the threat of execution by Armenian forces if they were shot down. The setup of the defense system severely hampered Azerbaijan's ability to carry out and launch more air strikes.[70] The most widely used helicopter gunship by both the Armenians and Azeris was the Soviet-made Mil Mi-24 Krokodil.[71]

Armenian and Azerbaijani aircraft equipment during the war

Below is a table listing the number of aircraft that were used by Armenia and Azerbaijan during the war.[72]

Photo Aircraft Armenian Armenian
Azeri Azeri
Fighter Aircraft
MiG-21 1 1 18 8
  • 1 Azeri MiG-21 was shot down near Shokhiy on 20 August 1992
  • 1 Azeri MiG-21 shot down near Shokhiy on 31 August 1992 using small-arms fire
  • 1 or 2 Azeri MiG-21s shot down over Argadzar on 30 October 1992
  • 1 Azeri MiG-21 shot down in January 1993
  • 1 Armenian MiG-21 shot down on 15 January 1993
  • 1 Azeri MiG-21 shot down between Agdam and Martuni on 22 July 1993
  • 1 Azeri MiG-21 shot down over Verdenisskiy on 17 February 1994 using SA-14
MiG-23 - -  ? 1
MiG-25 - - 20 ~10 20 MiG-25RBs were taken over from Russian base
  • 1 Azeri MiG-25 flown by Yuri Belichenko was shot down near Cherban on 20 August 1992 using SA-7A
  • 1 Azeri MiG-25 shot down over Srkharend on 30 October 1992
  • 1 Azeri MiG-25 shot down over Shushimsky on 11 November 1992
  • 1 (or 3) Azeri MiG-25s reported as shot down in autumn 1992
  • 2 Azeri MiG-25s shot down on 1 January 1993
  • 1 Azeri MiG-25 shot down near Srkhavend and Gazanchi on 15 January 1993 by Petros Ghevondyan using Igla (watch video)
  • 1 Azeri MiG-25 shot down in January 1993 (?)
  • 4 Azeri MiG-25s shot down on 22 July 1993 (?)

By the end of the war AzAF was down to 10 MiG-25s

Ground-Attack Aircraft
Su-17M and
- - 4 1 1 Azeri Su-22 was shot down on 19 February 1994 over Verdenisskiy using SA-14
Su-24 - - 19-20  ? initially Azeris had 3-4 Su-24s,
then additional 16 Su-24MRs were taken over from Russian base
Su-25 2 0 7 [73] 2
  • 1 Azeri Su-25 flown by Kurbanov was shot down over Mkhrdag on 13 June 1992 using MANPAD
  • 1 Azeri Su-25 shot down near Malibeili on 10 October 1992 using MANPAD

Armenians had 3 additional Su-25s, but they were inactive and never used in combat.

Trainer Aircraft
Aero L-29 1 [73] - 18 14
Aero L-39 1-2 (?)  ? 12  ? Azeris lost at least 1 L-39 on 24 June 1992 near Lachin
Attack Helicopters
Mi-24 12 [73] - 15 2 or 4 25-30 19-24 By the end of the war AzAF had only six Mi-24s left.
Transport and Utility Helicopters
Mi-2 2  ? 7  ?
Mi-8 and
7 6 13-14 4
Transport Aircraft
Il-76 - - 3 0
An-12 - - 1 0
An-24 - - 1 0
Tu-134 1 0 1 0

1993–1994 attack waves

The final borders of the conflict after the 1994 ceasefire was signed. Armenian forces of Nagorno-Karabakh currently control almost 9% of Azerbaijan's territory outside the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.[7][15] Azerbaijani forces, on the other hand, control Shahumian and the eastern parts of Martakert and Martuni.

In October 1993, Aliev was formally elected as President and promised to bring social order to the country in addition to recapturing the lost regions. In October, Azerbaijan joined the CIS. The winter season was marked with similar conditions as in the previous year, both sides scavenging for wood and harvesting foodstuffs months in advance. Two subsequent UNSC resolutions were passed, (874 and 884), in October and November and, although reemphasizing the same points as the previous two, they acknowledged Nagorno-Karabakh as a party to the conflict.[64]

In early January, Azerbaijani forces and Afghan guerrillas recaptured part of the Fizuli district, including the railway junction of Horadiz on the Iranian border, but failed to recapture the town of Fizuli itself.[74] On January 10, 1994, an offensive was launched by Azerbaijan towards the region of Martakert in an attempt to recapture the northern section of the enclave. The offensive managed to advance and take back several parts of Karabakh in the north and to the south of but soon stalled. The Republic of Armenia began sending conscripts and regular Army and Interior Ministry troops to stop Azerbaijani advancements in Karabakh.[75] To bolster the ranks of its army, the Armenian government issued a decree, instituting a three-month call-up for men up to age forty-five and resorted to press-gang raids to enlist recruits. Several active-duty Armenian Army soldiers were captured by the Azerbaijani forces.[75]

Azerbaijan's offensives grew more dire as men as young as 16 with little to no training at all were recruited and sent to take part in ineffective human wave attacks, tactics once employed by Iran during the Iran–Iraq War. The two offensives that took place in the winter cost Azerbaijan as many as 5,000 men (at the loss of several hundred Armenians).[11] The main Azeri offensive was aimed at recapturing the Khelbajar district, thus threatening the Lachin corridor. The attack initially met little resistance and was successful in capturing the vital Omar Pass. However, as the Armenian forces reacted, the bloodiest clashes of the war ensued and the Azeri forces were soundly defeated. Several Azeri brigades were isolated when the Armenians recaptured the Omar Pass and were eventually surrounded and destroyed.

While the political foundations changed hands several times in Azerbaijan, most Armenian soldiers in Karabakh claimed that the youths and Azeris themselves, were demoralized and lacked a sense of purpose and commitment to fighting the war.[76] Russian professor Georgiy I. Mirsky also supported this viewpoint, stating that "Karabakh does not matter to Azerbaijanis as much as it does to Armenians. Probably, this is why young volunteers from Armenia proper have been much more eager to fight and die for Karabakh than the Azerbaijanis have."[77] This reality was reflected by a journalist who noted that "In Stepanakert, it is impossible to find an able-bodied man - whether volunteer from Armenia or local resident - out of uniform. [Whereas in] Azerbaijan, draft-age men hang out in cafes."[78] Andrei Sakharov also supported this view, famously stating, "For Azerbaijan the issue of Karabakh is a matter of ambition, for the Armenians of Karabakh, it is a matter of life or death."[34]

1994 ceasefire

After six years of intensive fighting, both sides were ready for a ceasefire. Azerbaijan, after exhausting nearly all its manpower was relying on a ceasefire to be put forth by either the CSCE or by Russia as Armenian commanders stated their forces had an unimpeded path towards Baku. The borders, however, were confined to Karabakh and the immediate rayons surrounding it. Diplomatic channels increased between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the month of May.[11] The final battles of the conflict took place near Shahumyan in a series of brief engagements between Armenian and Azeri forces at Gulistan.

On May 16, the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh and Russia met in Moscow to sign a truce that would effectively call for a cessation of hostilities. In Azerbaijan, many welcomed the end of hostilities, while others felt that a contingent of peacekeeping troops to remain temporarily in the area should not have came from Russia. Sporadic fighting continued in some parts of the region but all sides affirmed that they would stay committed to honoring the ceasefire.[79]

Post-ceasefire violence and mediation

NKR soldiers from the 8th regiment climb out of a trench during military exercises on the Agdam front.
A T-72 tank memorial near the town of Askeran.

Today, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains one of several frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet states along with Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as well as Moldova's troubles with Transnistria. Karabakh remains under the jurisdiction of the government of the unrecognized but de facto independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and maintains its own uniformed military, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army.[80]

Contrary to media reports which nearly always mentioned the religions of the Armenians and Azeris, religious aspects never gained significance as an additional casus belli, and it has remained primarily an issue of territory and the human rights of Armenians in Karabakh.[81] Since 1995, the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group has been mediating with the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan to settle for a new solution. Numerous proposals have been made which have primarily been based on both sides making several concessions. One such proposal stipulated that as Armenian forces withdrew from the seven regions surrounding Karabakh, Azerbaijan would share some of its economic assets including profits from an oil pipeline that would go from Baku through Armenia to Turkey.[82] Other proposals also included that Azerbaijan would provide the broadest form of autonomy to the enclave next to granting it full independence. Armenia has also been pressured by being excluded from major economic projects throughout the region, including the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline[82] and Kars-Tbilisi-Baku railway.

Most autonomy proposals have been rejected, however, by the Armenians, who consider it as a matter that is not negotiable. Likewise, Azerbaijan has also refused to let the matter subside and regularly threatens to resume hostilities.[83] On March 30, 1998, Robert Kocharyan was elected President and continued to reject calls for making a deal to resolve the conflict. In 2001, Kocharyan and Aliev met at Key West, Florida to discuss the issues and, while several Western diplomats expressed optimism, mounting opposition against any concessions by both countries thwarted hopes for a peaceful resolution.[84]

Refugees displaced from the fighting account to nearly one million people. An estimated 400,000 Armenians living in Azerbaijan fled to Armenia or Russia and a further 30,000 came from Karabakh.[85] Many of those who left Karabakh returned after the war ended.[86] An estimated 800,000 Azeris were displaced from the fighting including those from both Armenia and the enclave.[15] Various other ethnic groups living in Karabakh were also forced to live in refugee camps built by both the Azeri and Iranian governments.[87] Although the issue of amount of Azeri territory controlled by Armenians has often been claimed to be 20% and even as high 40%, the number is estimated, taking into account the exclave of Nakhichevan, 13.62% or 14% (The number comes down to 9% if the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is excluded).[7]

The ramifications of the war were said to have played a part in the February 2004 murder of Armenian Lieutenant Gurgen Markaryan who was hacked to death with an axe by his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ramil Safarov at a NATO training seminar in Budapest, Hungary.[88] Azerbaijani enmity against anything Armenian led to the destruction of thousands of medieval Armenian gravestones, known as khatchkars, in cemeteries in Julfa, Nakhichevan. This destruction was temporarily halted when first revealed in 1998, but then continued on to completion in 2005.[89] Azerbaijan has likened Armenia's control of the region to the Nazi occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II.[7]

Current situation

In early 2008, tensions between Armenia, the NKR Karabakh and Azerbaijan took a turn for the worse. On the diplomatic front, President Ilham Aliyev once again repeated increasingly bellicose statements that Azerbaijan would resort to force, if necessary, to take the territories back;[90] concurrently, shooting incidents along the line of contact increased. The most significant breach of the ceasefire occurred on March 5, 2008, when up to sixteen soldiers were killed. Both sides accused the other of starting the battle.[91] Moreover, the usage of artillery in the recent skirmishes marks a significant departure from previous clashes, which usually involved only sniper or machine gun fire.[92]

In 2008, Moscow Defense Brief opined that because of the rapid growth of Azeri defense expenditures  – which is driving the strong rearmament of the Azeri armed forces  – the military balance appeared to be now shifting in Azerbaijan's favour: "... The overall trend is clearly in Azerbaijan’s favor, and it seems that Armenia will not be able to sustain an arms race with Azerbaijan’s oil-fueled economy. And this could lead to the destabilization of the frozen conflict between these two states," the journal wrote.[93] Other analysts have made more cautious observations, noting that administrative and military deficiencies are still found in the Azerbaijani military and have stressed that the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army is in a "constant state of readiness, undergoing more serious combat training and operational exercises than any other former Soviet army."[94]

On November 22, 2009, several world leaders, among them the heads of states from Azerbaijan and Armenia, met in Munich in the hopes of renewing efforts to reach a peaceful settlement on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Prior to the meeting, President Aliyev once more threatened to resort to military force to reestablish control over the region if the two sides did not reach an agreeable settlement at the summit.[95]


Emerging from the collapse of the Soviet Union as nascent states and due to the near-immediate fighting, it was not until mid-1993 that Armenia and Azerbaijan became signatories of international law agreements, including the Geneva Conventions. Allegations from all three governments (including Nagorno-Karabakh's) regularly accused the other side of committing atrocities which were at times confirmed by third party media sources or human rights organizations. Khojaly Massacre, for example, was confirmed by both Human Rights Watch and Memorial while what became known as the Maraghar Massacre was first independently affirmed by the British-based human rights organization Christian Solidarity International in 1992.[96] Azerbaijan was also criticized for its use of aerial bombing in densely populated civilian areas.[97]

The lack of international laws for either side to abide by virtually sanctioned activity in the war to what would be considered war crimes. Looting and mutilation (body parts such as ears, brought back from the front as treasured war souvenirs) of dead soldiers were commonly reported and even boasted about among soldiers.[7] Another practice that took form, not by soldiers but by regular civilians during the war, was the bartering of prisoners between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. Often, when contact was lost between family members and a soldier or a militiaman serving at the front, they took it upon themselves to organize an exchange by personally capturing a soldier from the battle lines and holding them in the confines of their own homes. New York Times journalist Yo'av Karny noted this practice was as "old as the people occupying [the] land."[98]

After the war ended, both sides accused their opponents of continuing to hold captives; Azerbaijan claimed Armenia was continuing to hold nearly 5,000 Azerbaijani prisoners while Armenians claimed Azerbaijan was holding 600 people. The non-profit group, Helsinki Initiative 92, investigated two prisons in Shushi and Stepanakert after the war ended, but concluded there were no prisoners-of-war there. A similar investigation arrived at the same conclusion while searching for Armenians allegedly laboring in Azerbaijan's quarries.[8]


Note (I): The region's names in various languages tend to have the same approximate meaning. The name first originated in Georgian and Persian sources in the 13th and 14th centuries. Both in Armenian and Azerbaijani, the name of the region translates to "mountainous Karabakh [black garden]". Armenians also commonly refer to it as Artsakh, an allusion to the tenth province of the ancient Kingdom of Armenia; the name is often seen shortened to simply Karabakh in news sources and books. Other languages such as Russian, French and German refer to the region, respectively, as Nagorny Karabakh, Haut-Karabakh (Upper Karabakh) and Bergkarabach (Mountain-Karabach).

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  8. ^ a b c d Ohanyan, Karine; Zarema Velikhanova (May 12, 2004). "Investigation: Karabakh: Missing in Action - Alive or Dead?". Institute for War and Peace Reporting.  
  9. ^ Rieff, David (June 1997). "Without Rules or Pity". Foreign Affairs Volume, 76, no. 2, 1997. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2007-02-13.  
  10. ^ Lieberman, Benjamin (2006). Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. pp. 284–292. ISBN 1-5666-3646-9.  
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Croissant, Michael P. (1998). The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications. London: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-96241-5.  
  12. ^ It should be noted that at the time of the dissolution of the USSR, the United States government recognized as legitimate the pre-Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 1933 borders of the country (the Franklin D. Roosevelt government established diplomatic relations with the Kremlin at the end of that year). Because of this, the George H. Bush administration openly supported the secession of the Baltic SSRs, but regarded the questions related to the independence and territorial conflicts of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the rest of the Transcaucasus as internal Soviet affairs.
  13. ^ Four non-binding UNSC resolutions, passed in 1993, called on withdrawal of Armenian forces from the regions falling outside of the borders of the former NKAO.
  14. ^ Using numbers provided by journalist Thomas de Waal for the area of each rayon as well as the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh Oblast and the total area of Azerbaijan are (in square kilometres): 1,936, Kelbajar; 1,835, Lachin; 802, Kubatly; 1,050, Jebrail; 707, Zangelan; 842, Aghdam; 462, Fizuli; 75, exclaves; totaling 7,709km² or 8.9%: de Waal. Black Garden, p. 286.
  15. ^ a b c The Central Intelligence Agency. "The CIA World Factbook: Transnational Issues in Country Profile of Azerbaijan". Retrieved 2007-02-14.   Military involvement denied by the Armenian government.
  16. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROA. Circular by colonel D. I. Shuttleworth of the British Command. Republic of Armenia Archives, File No. 9. Retrieved March 2, 2007.
  17. ^ a b Karagiannis, Emmanuel. (2002). Energy and Security in the Caucasus. London: RoutledgeCurzon. pp. 36, 40. ISBN 0-7007-1481-2.  
  18. ^ Bradshaw, Michael J; George W. White (2004). Contemporary World Regional Geography: Global Connections, Local Voices. New York: Mcgraw-Hill. p. 164. ISBN 0-0725-4975-0.  
  19. ^ Yamskov, A. N. "Ethnic Conflict in the Transcausasus: The Case of Nagorno-Karabakh". Theory and Society, Vol. 20, No. 5, Special Issue on Ethnic Conflict in the Soviet Union October 1991, 659. Retrieved on February 13, 2007.
  20. ^ Weisbrode, Kenneth (2001). Central Eurasia - Prize or Quicksand?: Contending Views of Instability in Karabakh, Ferghana and Afghanistan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-1985-1070-5.  
  21. ^ Nadein-Raevski, V. The Azerbaijani Armenian Conflict; Rupesinghe, K., King, P., Vorkunova, O eds. Ethnicity and Conflict in a Post-Communist World, St. Martin's Press, 1992, p. 118.
  22. ^ Gilbert, Martin (2001). A History of the Twentieth Century: The Concise Edition of the Acclaimed World History. New York: Harper Collins. p. 594. ISBN 0-0605-0594-X.  
  23. ^ Brown, Archie (1996). The Gorbachev Factor. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 262. ISBN 0-1928-8052-7.  
  24. ^ (Russian) Regnum News Agency. "Кто на стыке интересов? США, Россия и новая реальность на границе с Ираном" (Who is at the turn of interests? US, Russia and new reality on the border with Iran) April 4, 2006.
  25. ^ Lobell, Steven E.; Philip Mauceri (2004). Ethnic Conflict and International Politics: Explaining Diffusion and Escalation. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. p. 58. ISBN 1-4039-6356-8.  
  26. ^ a b Rost, Yuri (1990). The Armenian Tragedy: An Eye-Witness Account of Human Conflict and Natural Disaster in Armenia and Azerbaijan. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 17. ISBN 0-312-04611-1.  
  27. ^ a b c d Kaufman, Stuart (2001). Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. New York: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs. pp. 49–66. ISBN 0-8014-8736-6.  
  28. ^ (Russian) Chronology of the conflict. Memorial.
  29. ^ (Russian) Kulish, O. and Melikov, D. Социалистическая индустрия (Socialist Industry). March 27, 1988. Retrieved March 30, 2008
  30. ^ Rabo, Annika; Utas, Bo (2005). The Role of the State in West Asia. Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. p. 169. ISBN 9186884131.  
  31. ^ Shahmuratian, Samvel (ed.) (1990). The Sumgait Tragedy: Pogroms Against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan. New York: Zoryan Institute. ISBN 0892414901.  
  32. ^ Hofheinz, Paul (October 23, 1989). "On the Edge of Civil War". TIME Magazine.,10987,958833,00.html. Retrieved 2006-03-13.  
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h Melkonian, Markar (2005). My Brother's Road, An American's Fateful Journey to Armenia. New York: I. B. Tauris. pp. passim. ISBN 1-85043-635-5.  
  34. ^ a b c Chorbajian, Levon (2001). The Making of Nagorno-Karabagh: From Secession to Republic. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 1, 161, 213. ISBN 0333773403.  
  35. ^ a b Altstadt, Audrey L. The Azerbaijani Turks: power and identity under Russian rule, Hoover Press, 1992, p. 215.
  36. ^ Smolowe, Jill (January 29, 1990). "The Killing Zone". TIME Magazine.,10987,969280,00.html. Retrieved 2006-02-25.  
  37. ^ Abu-Hamad, Aziz, et al. Playing the "Communal Card": Communal Violence and Human Rights Human Rights Watch.
  38. ^ Hofheinz, Paul (December 5, 1988). "Nationalities People Power, Soviet Style". TIME Magazine.,9171,956447,00.html. Retrieved 2006-05-02.  
  39. ^ Petrosian, David. "What Are the Reasons for Armenians' Success in the Military Phase of the Karabakh Conflict?" Noyan Tapan Highlights. June 1, 2000
  40. ^ a b c Carney, James (April 13, 1992). "Former Soviet Union Carnage in Karabakh". TIME Magazine.,10987,975278,00.html. Retrieved 2006-04-13.  
  41. ^ Smith, Hedrick (1991). The New Russians. New York: Harper Perennial. pp. 344–345. ISBN 0-380-71651-8.  
  42. ^ Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act. Humanitarian aid was not explicitly banned but such supplies had to be routed through indirectly to aid organizations. On January 25, 2002, President George W. Bush signed a waiver that effectively repealed Section 907, thereby removing any restrictions that were barring the United States from sending military aid to Azerbaijan; however, military parity is maintained towards both sides. For more information, see here [1]. Azerbaijan continues to maintain their road and air blockade against Armenia.
  43. ^ a b Gurdelik, Rasit (January 30, 1994). "Azerbaijanis Rebuild Army with Foreign Help". The Seattle Times. p. A3. Retrieved 2006-08-12.  
  44. ^ a b Chorbajian, Levon; Patrick Donabedian, Claude Mutafian (1994). The Caucasian Knot: The History and Geopolitics of Nagorno-Karabagh. London: Zed Books. pp. 13–18. ISBN 1-85649-288-5.   The statistics cited by the authors is from data compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies based in London, Great Britain in a report entitled The Military Balance, 1993–1994 published in 1993. The 20,000 figure of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh included 8,000 volunteers from Armenia itself; Armenia's military in the report was exclusively made up of members in the army; Azerbaijan's statistics referred to 38,000 members in its army and 1,600 in its air force. Reference to these statistics can be found on pages 68–69 and 71–73 of the report.
  45. ^ a b Curtis, Glenn E. (1995). Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Country Studies. Washington D.C.: Federal Research Division Library of Congress. ISBN 0-8444-0848-4.  
  46. ^ Human Rights Watch / Helsinki Azerbaijan: Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. — New York • Washington • Los Angeles • London • Brussels: 1994. — С. 6. — ISBN 1-56432-142-8
  47. ^ Gokay, Bulent (2003). The Politics of Caspian Oil. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 189–190. ISBN 0-3337-3973-6.  
  48. ^ a b Melkonian, Markar (2005). My Brother's Road: An American's Fateful Journey to Armenia. I.B. Tauris. p. 213. ISBN 1-85043-635-5.  
  49. ^ The Armenian government denies that a deliberate massacre took place in Khojaly and maintains most of the civilians were killed in a crossfire shooting between Armenian and Azeri troops.
  50. ^ Letter from the Charge d'affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the United Nations Office
  51. ^ Quinn-Judge, Paul (1992-03-03). "Armenians killed 1000, Azeris charge.". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-03-02.  
  52. ^ Denber R. Bloodshed in the Caucasus: Escalation of the Armed Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh (New York: Helsinki Watch), September 1992, 19–21 ISBN 1-5643-2081-2
  53. ^ Rubin, Barry; Kemal Kirisci (2001). Turkey in World Politics: An Emerging Multiregional Power. Boulder, Co: Lynne Rienner. p. 175. ISBN 1-55587-954-3.  
  54. ^ a b c Mouradian, Khatchig. "Terror in Karabakh: Chechen Warlord Shamil Basayev's Tenure in Azerbaijan." The Armenian Weekly.
  55. ^ Bertsch, Gary (1999). Crossroads and Conflict: Security and Foreign Policy in the Caucasus and Central Asia. London: Routledge. pp. 167–171, 172–173, 297. ISBN 0-415-92273-9.  
  56. ^ Brown, Michael E. (1996). The International Dimensions of Internal Conflict. Cambridge: MIT Press. p. 125. ISBN 0-262-52209-8.  
  57. ^ Goldberg, Carey (June 14, 1992). "Azerbaijan Troops Launch Karabakh Offensive Conflict". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-02-17.  
  58. ^ Freire, Maria Raquel (2003). Conflict and Security in the Former Soviet Union: The Role of the OSCE. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-3526-0.  
  59. ^ Dahlburg, John-Thor (August 24, 1992). "Azerbaijan Accused of Bombing Civilians". Chicago Sun-Times.   Kocharyan's assertion in regards to the former allegation was confirmed by the testimonies given by Russian and Ukrainian pilots, hired to fly in the Azerbaijani air force, after being shot down by Armenian forces near Stepanakert. The pilots claimed that their Azerbaijani commanders outlined the air strikes to explicitly target civilian rather than military targets, thereby instowing panic upon the city's populace: (Russian) Русские наемники воевавшие в Карабахе. Documentary produced and broadcast by REN TV.
  60. ^ a b c Chrysanthopolous, Leonidas T. (2002). Caucasus Chronicles: Nation-building and Diplomacy in Armenia, 1993–1994. Princeton: Gomidas Institute Books. ISBN 1-884630-05-7.  
  61. ^ Sammakia, Nejla (December 23, 1992). "Winter Brings Misery to Azerbaijani Refugees". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-08-08.  
  62. ^ Bourdreaux, Richard (January 5, 1993). "Despite Appeals, Karabakh Battles Rage". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-02-08.  
  63. ^ "Armenians Rally to Protest Leader". The Los Angeles Times. February 6, 1993. Retrieved 2007-02-17.  
  64. ^ a b United Nations Security Council Resolution 822 passed on 30 April 1993 Text provided by the US State Department. A total of four UNSC resolutions were passed in regards to the conflict.
  65. ^ The Associated Press. "Rebel troops push toward Azeri capital", Toronto Star. June 21, 1993, p. A12
  66. ^ The genuineness of the NKR's claims during the 1993 summer offensives were widely questioned in the international forum on whether or not Karabakh forces were wantonly seizing the territories surrounding the enclave. While many doubted that they were true, periodic fighting between the two sides in the regions was reported to have been occurring months before the offensives took place.
  67. ^ During the Russian constitutional crisis of 1993, one of the coup's leaders against Russian President Yeltsin, Chechen Ruslan Khasbulatov, was reported by the US and French intelligence agencies to preparing Russian troop withdrawals from Armenia if the coup succeeded. An estimated 23,000 Russian soldiers were stationed in Armenia on the border of Turkey. Çiller was reported by the agencies to be collaborating with Khasbulatov for him to give her tacit support in allowing possible military incursions by Turkey into Armenia under the pretext of pursuing PKK guerrillas, an act it had once followed up on earlier the same year in northern Iraq. Russian armed forces, however, crushed the coup.
  68. ^ For example, according to Melkonian in a television interview in March 1993, his forces in Martuni alone had captured or destroyed a total of 55 T-72s, 24 BMP-2s, 15 APCs and 25 pieces of heavy artillery since the June 1992 Azeri offensive, stating that "most of our arms...[were] captured from Azerbaijan." Serzh Sargsyan, the then military leader of the Karabakh armed forces claimed they had captured a total of 156 tanks throughout the war: De Waal. Black Garden, p. 316. By the summer of 1993, Armenian forces had captured so much equipment that many of them were praising Elchibey's war policies since he was, in effect, arming both sides: Melkonian. My Brother's Road, p. 237.
  69. ^ Vartanyan, Arkady. "Azerbaijan, USA seen pursuing anti-Russian goals in Karabakh." BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. June 11, 2000
  70. ^ a b c Loiko, Sergei L (July 19, 1993). "Ex-Soviet `Top Guns' Shot Down, Face Possible Death as Mercenaries". Los Angeles Times.  
  71. ^ Under the protocols of the Tashkent Agreement signed in Uzbekistan in May 1992, the former Soviet republics were allocated a certain number of tanks, armored vehicles and combat aircraft. The agreement allowed Armenia and Azerbaijan to have a total of 100 aircraft. The Armenian Air Force currently possesses a fleet of 12 Mil Mi-24s gunships, 9 Mil Mi-2s and 13 Mil Mi-8s transport helicopters. Azerbaijan's air force has a near-similar fleet of 15 Mil Mi-24s, 7 Mil Mi-2, 15 Mil Mi-6 and 13 Mil Mi-8 utility helicopters.
  72. ^ Air War over Nagorniy-Kharabakh, 1988-1994. Air Combat Information Group.
  73. ^ a b c Жирохов Михаил Александрович Авиация в Нагорном Карабахе
  74. ^ Cooley, John K. (2002). Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism. London: Pluto Press. pp. 150–151. ISBN 0-7453-1917-3.  
  75. ^ a b Human Rights Watch World Report 1995
  76. ^ As one Armenian fighter commented: "The difference is in what you do and what you do it for. You know a few miles back is your family, children, women and old people and therefore you're duty-bound to fight to the death so that those behind you will live."
  77. ^ Mirsky, Georgiy I. (1997). On Ruins of Empire: Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Former Soviet Union. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. p. 63. ISBN 0-3133-0044-5.  
  78. ^ Specter, Michael (1994-07-15). "Armenians Suffer Painfully in War, But With Pride and Determination". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-07.  
  79. ^ Bell, Christine (2005). Peace Agreements and Human Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 326. ISBN 0-1992-7096-1.  
  80. ^ Durch, William J ed. (1996). UN Peacekeeping, American Politics and the Uncivil Wars of the 1990s. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 444. ISBN 0-3121-2930-0.  
  81. ^ Tishkov, Valery (1997). Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in and after the Soviet Union: The Mind Aflame. London: Sage. p. 107. ISBN 0-7619-5185-7.  
  82. ^ a b Cohen, Ariel (ed.) (2005). Eurasia in Balance: US and the Regional Power Shift. Aldershot, England: Ashgate. p. 60. ISBN 0-7546-4449-9.  
  83. ^ "Azerbaijan threatens renewed war". BBC News. May 12, 2004. Retrieved 2007-02-10.  
  84. ^ Peuch, Jean-Christophe (April 10, 2001). "Armenia/Azerbaijan: International Mediators Report Progress On Karabakh Dispute". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.  
  85. ^ Collin, Matthew. "Azeris criticised on human rights." BBC News. June 28, 2007.
  86. ^ The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. 2001 Country Report of Armenia. USCRI, 2001
  87. ^ For more detailed statistics on the status of refugees and the number of internally displaced persons see Human Rights in Nagorno-Karabakh.
  88. ^ Grigorian, Mariana; Rauf Orujev (April 20, 2006). "Murder Case Judgement Reverberates Around Caucasus". Institute for War and Peace Reporting.  
  89. ^ Pickman, Sarah. "Tragedy on the Araxes." Archaeology, June 30, 2006.
  90. ^ Yevgrashina, Lada. "Azerbaijan may use force in Karabakh after Kosovo", Reuters. March 4, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2008.
  91. ^ Yevgrashina, Lada and Hasmik Mkrtchyan. "Azeris, Armenians spar after major Karabakh clash", Reuters. March 5, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2008.
  92. ^ "4 killed in Nagorno-Karabakh region in skirmishes between Azerbaijanis, ethnic Armenians", International Herald Tribune. March 10, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2008.
  93. ^ Barabanov, Mikhail. "Nagorno-Karabakh: Shift in the Military Balance". Moscow Defense Brief (Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies) (2/2008). Retrieved 2009-05-27.  
  94. ^ Giragosian, Richard. "Armenia and Karabakh: One Nation, Two States." AGBU Magazine. № 1, Vol. 19, May 2009, pp. 12-13.
  95. ^ "Azerbaijan military threat to Armenia." The Daily Telegraph. November 22, 2009. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  96. ^ Speech given by Baroness Caroline Cox in April 1998. Survivors of Maraghar massacre: It was truly like a contemporary Golgotha many times over. Retrieved February 10, 2007.
  97. ^ Human Rights Watch/Helsinki. Azerbaijan: Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. New York, 1994.
  98. ^ Karny, Yo'av (2000). Highlanders: A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory. New York: Douglas & McIntyre. pp. 405–406. ISBN 0-374-52812-8.  

Further reading

Historical overviews
  • Cheterian, Vicken. (2008). War and Peace in the Caucasus: Russia's Troubled Frontier. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Cox, Caroline and John Eibner (1993). Ethnic Cleansing in Progress: War in Nagorno Karabakh. Zürich; Washington: Institute for Religious Minorities in the Islamic World
  • Croissant, Michael P (1998). Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications. London: Praeger
  • Curtis, Glenn E. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia Country Studies. Federal Research Division Library of Congress
  • De Waal, Thomas (2003). Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War. New York: New York University Press
  • Freire, Maria Raquel (2003). Conflict and Security in the Former Soviet Union: The Role of the OSCE. Burlington, VT: Ashgate
  • Griffin, Nicholas (2004). Caucasus: A Journey to the Land Between Christianity and Islam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  • Karny, Yo'av (2000). Highlanders: A Journey to the Caucasus in Quest of Memory. New York: Douglas & McIntyre
  • Human Rights Watch/Helsinki (1995). Azerbaijan: Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. New York: Human Rights Watch
Specific issues and time periods
  • Chrysanthopolous, Leonidas T (2002). Caucasus Chronicles: Nation-building and Diplomacy in Armenia, 1993–1994. Princeton: Gomidas Institute
  • Goltz, Thomas (1998). Azerbaijan Diary: A Rogue Reporter's Adventures in an Oil-Rich, War-Torn, Post-Soviet Republic. New York: M.E. Sharpe
  • Kaufman, Stuart (2001). Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. New York: Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
  • Libaridian, Gerard (1988). The Karabagh file: Documents and facts on the region of Mountainous Karabagh, 1918–1988. Zoryan Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research & Documentation; 1st ed edition
  • Malkasian, Mark (1996). Gha-Ra-Bagh!: The Emergence of the National Democratic Movement in Armenia. Wayne State University Press
  • Rost, Yuri (1990). The Armenian Tragedy: An Eye-Witness Account of Human Conflict and Natural Disaster in Armenia and Azerbaijan. New York: St. Martin's Press
  • Shahmuratian, Samvel (ed.) (1990). The Sumgait Tragedy: Pogroms Against Armenians in Soviet Azerbaijan. New York: Zoryan Institute
  • Melkonian, Markar (2005). My Brother's Road, An American's Fateful Journey to Armenia. New York: I.B. Tauris

External links

Simple English

The Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict that took place from February 1988 to May 1994, in the small ethnic enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the mostly ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan.

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