Escalating Tensions: Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict Rekindles – OpEd


Armenia’s obstinacy will cost it an arm and a leg as long as Yerevan lacks the political will to sit at the negotiations table with Azerbaijan to sign a peace deal to prevent further aggravation of the explosive situation between the two sworn foes, promising unspeakable consequences.

The latest phase of the deterioration of the cross-border situation came as no surprise with tens of thousands of servicemen on both sides of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conventional border, armed with state-of-the-art weapons. The adage “keep your powder keg dry” resonates strongly in the context of the ongoing tensions between Baku and Yerevan, especially considering the absence of a lasting peace deal and the latter’s all-out efforts to drag the process out.

The accumulation of the military forces, coupled with various actors pursuing their agendas behind the scenes, underscores the fragility of the situation and the potential for a rapid escalation into conflict.

On the other hand, the absence of a comprehensive peace agreement between the parties has left unresolved grievances and territorial disputes, particularly regarding Karabakh, contributing to a volatile and precarious environment. Additionally, the involvement of external actors, each with its interests and alliances, further complicates efforts to achieve a sustainable resolution.

With tens of thousands of military forces stationed along the border, any miscalculation or provocation could trigger a dangerous chain of events with far-reaching consequences for regional stability. Therefore, the imperative to “keep your powder keg dry” underscores the necessity for both sides to exercise restraint, engage in meaningful dialogue, and work towards a negotiated settlement that addresses the underlying issues fuelling the conflict.

However, the continued militarization of the border and the involvement of external actors underscore the challenges in achieving lasting peace and highlight the importance of international diplomacy and mediation efforts to prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.

What triggered Azerbaijan’s Operation Retribution?

A border guard of the Azerbaijani State Border Service was wounded in a sniper fire on February 12, provoking yet another flare-up along the 1,000-km-long border yet to be demarcated and delimitated.

In response to the Armenian provocation, the border service carried out Operation Retribution on February 13, killing four Armenians. The SBS reports that a combat post of the Armenian armed forces near the settlement of Nerkin Hand, Kapan, from where an Azerbaijani border guard was wounded yesterday, was destroyed. The report further quotes the SBS as saying that “from now on more serious and decisive measures will follow in response for every provocation by Armenia, aimed at aggravating the operational situation on the conditional state border between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Similarly, the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said early on 13 February that on 12 February, at 2050 and 2340 hours, units of the Armenian armed forces fired positions of the Azerbaijan army in the direction of Koxanabi village of Tovuz District using small arms.

In response to the border incident, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry described “the latest armed provocation by Armenia as a serious blow to peace talks”. It adds that “in light of the stable situation of last 4-5 months, such belligerent acts blatantly contradict with peace messages by Armenia,” blaming the EU mission in Armenia for being behind the provocation.

The ministry says that such a provocation was carried out precisely in the territory observed by the European Union Mission in Armenia, raising major doubts regarding the mission’s goals and objectives, adding that the “military-political leadership of Armenia bears responsibility for such provocations against Azerbaijan”.

France as instigator

The latest tension on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border involves various factors contributing to the escalation as well as the evaluation of the geopolitical dynamics at play, considering the role of external actors in concert with analysis on the impact on regional stability, exploring potential avenues for de-escalation and conflict resolution.

One such behind-the-scene actor with a negative role is France which openly supports Armenia, supplying it with weapons and military training as well as political backing. France has been a notable behind-the-scenes actor in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, with a history of supporting Armenia. French support for Armenia includes supplying weapons and military training, as well as providing political backing on various international platforms.

Paris’s backing of Yerevan is rooted in several factors, including historical ties, a significant Armenian diaspora within France, and strategic interests in the region. The Macron government maintains a strong political and cultural relationship with Armenia, which has influenced its stance on the conflict.

Additionally, France has been critical of Azerbaijan’s human rights record and its handling of the Karabakh conflict, aligning itself more closely with Armenia in international forums, thus displaying a one-sided position and playing a negative role.

The provision of weapons and military training by France to Armenia has been a contentious issue, as it contributes to the militarization of the region and exacerbates tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This support has also drawn criticism from Azerbaijan and other countries, who view it as undermining efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

France’s involvement in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict underscores the complex web of geopolitical interests at play in the region and highlights the challenges of achieving a balanced and impartial approach to conflict resolution.

As a member of the now-defunct OSCE Minsk Group, tasked with facilitating negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, France, along with the other co-chairs of Russia and the USA, played and remained to be a negative actor in mediating the conflict and straining its credibility as a neutral broker in the eyes of Azerbaijan and other stakeholders.

India – another key arms supplier of Armenia

India is another significant weapons supplier of Armenia. Although India’s foreign policy generally emphasizes non-alignment and maintaining friendly relations with all countries in the region, New Delhi and Yerevan did sign several contracts for the purchase of Indian weapons. Although Armenia’s primary arms suppliers include Russia, Belarus, and some European countries, the two above-said nations are now very active in providing defeated Armenia with weapons and missiles, re-fuelling the 30-year-long conflict.

India, as a member of various international organizations, keeps supplying Armenia with weapons that exacerbate regional tensions.

Iran and Armenia-Azerbaijani conflict

Iran also sees eye to eye with Armenia and backs the continuation of the conflict between Baku and Yerevan.

While Iran shares cultural and historical ties with Armenia and Azerbaijan, its position regarding the conflict between Baku and Yerevan is more nuanced but lacks neutrality and runs against the restoration of long-awaited regional peace with regional projects in place.

Iran has a declared vested interest in the stability of its northern neighbors due to geographical proximity and economic ties. However, the 30-year-long conflict only witnessed Tehran’s one-sided approach that encouraged Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijani lands and cultivation of drug plantations to fund Armenian mercenaries.

Iran has expressed support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, while also retaining closer ties with Armenia and remains the opponent of the Zangazur Corridor – vital for Azerbaijan. Iran’s foreign policy in the South Caucasus is shaped by various factors, including its geopolitical position, economic interests, and regional security concerns.


In light of the recent escalation resulting in casualties, Armenia must abide by the reality that it is a defeated nation to respond positively to Azerbaijan’s call for an urgent peace deal and prioritize dialogue and diplomacy to prevent further loss of life and escalation of tensions.

Moving forward, both sides must commit to constructive engagement through established diplomatic channels and adhere to ceasefire agreements. International mediators and stakeholders should intensify their efforts to facilitate meaningful negotiations aimed at addressing the root causes of the conflict and finding a mutually acceptable solution.

Additionally, fostering an environment conducive to trust-building measures and confidence-building initiatives is essential to de-escalate tensions and pave the way for sustainable peace. This includes measures to address humanitarian concerns, promote reconciliation, and enhance economic cooperation between the two nations.

Ultimately, a lasting resolution to the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict requires genuine political will, compromise, and a commitment to peaceful coexistence. The recent events serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need for all parties involved to redouble their efforts toward achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.

Fuad Muxtar-Agbabali

Fuad Muxtar-Agbabali is a distinguished journalist from Azerbaijan and has authored many white papers on International Affairs and political analysis focused in the regions of Europe and Southern Caucasus.

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