The rise and fall of Nagorno-Karabakh republic


Sept 29, 2023. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas


The breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh has proclaimed its own demise after being recaptured by Azerbaijan in an offensive that has prompted more than half the population to flee.

Here is a timeline of the battle for the mountainous region populated mainly by ethnic Armenians, which has changed hands numerous times over the course of history.

 Soviet-era autonomy 

Armenians are believed to have first settled in the winegrowing region in the 2nd century BC and lived there ever since, as the area came under Persian, Muslim Arab and Turkic tribal rule.

In 1813, it becomes part of the Russian Empire.

After the Bolsheviks take control of the Caucasus in the war following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Moscow grants the region autonomous status within the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, just years after the massacre of ethnic Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

As the Soviet Union begins to crumble in the late 1980s, ethnic Armenians in Karabakh begin pushing for their region to be ruled by Armenia, a demand rejected by both Azerbaijan and Moscow.

 First war: Armenians' victory 

In 1991, after Armenia and Azerbaijan break away from the Soviet Union, Karabakh's population votes overwhelmingly for independence.

Azerbaijan rejects the poll, which is not recognised by the international community, and the two sides go to war.

Karabakh's Armenians emerge victorious in the 1992-1993 conflict.

They take control of the region as well as a chunk of surrounding Azerbaijani territory connecting it to Armenia.

The war, which ends with a ceasefire brokered by Moscow, leaves about 30,000 people dead and forces hundreds of thousands more from their homes.

Ethnic Azerbaijanis flee Karabakh and Armenia, while ethnic Armenians flee Azerbaijan.

 Second war: Azerbaijan victory 

In a six-week war in 2020, Turkey-backed Azerbaijan wins back much of the territory it previously lost.

About 6,500 troops die in the fighting, with the Armenians taking the heaviest losses, before another Russian-brokered ceasefire.

Armenians see the agreement as a humiliation and storm the main government building in the Armenian capital Yerevan in protest.


In December 2022, Azerbaijan begins blocking the sole road linking Armenia to Karabakh for cargo deliveries, causing shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

Azerbaijan says it set up checkpoints for "security reasons".

 End of a dream 

On September 19, Azerbaijan launches a lightning offensive to retake the region.

The around 2,000 peacekeepers deployed by Moscow in 2020 do not intervene.

A day later, the territory's separatist authorities surrender and pledge to disarm.

Refugees begin streaming into Armenia, saying they do not want to live under Azerbaijani rule.

Armenia calls on the international community to take action over what he calls the "ethnic cleansing" of Nagorno-Karabakh.

On Thursday, the independence dream dies with the dramatic announcement that the region will cease to exist as a separate entity as of January 1, 2024.