Military training continues, as Karabakh politics soar over war’s aftermath

By | Rachel Brooks

March 29, 2021 

Image credit: “170216-D-PB383-020” by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is licensed under CC BY 2.0. The Azerbaijani forces have met with United States forces in recent years (image above created in 2017) as they work to secure their defenses. The United States is one of the members of the OSCE Minsk Group, the organization with a mandate to promote regional peace in the South Caucasus, and the resolve of the Karabakh armed conflict. 

In the post-2020 Karabakh war aftermath,  Azerbaijan continues to train and prepare its defense forces. While the official end of the 44-Day war of 2020 was signed, in a ceasefire agreement mitigated by Russia in November 2020, the political tensions in Karabakh remain at their skyscraper-high peak.  

While the official end of the 44-Day war of 2020 was signed, in a ceasefire agreement mitigated by Russia in November 2020, the political tensions in Karabakh remain at their skyscraper-high peak. Armenia’s domestic politics roil in the heat of the conflict’s aftermath, with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan preparing to step down from his post in April so that snap elections can be held in June, as was reported by Deutsche Welle, and various news outlets of Eurasia.

Mercator commented on domestic issues and stated that Armenia is experiencing a “demographic catastrophe,” referring to its low fertility rate and lack of population growth. The Armenian Weekly commentators attributed this “looming demographic crisis” to the cause and effects of the war, and stated that a larger diaspora community fertility rate would not guarantee repatriation to Armenia. As the politics in the nation remain explosive, and the internal social crises continue to be rolled into the forever-problem of the national conflict with neighbors, Armenia has the risk of compounded human rights issues feeding its political tensions with calls of “social revolution” as the only way to fix these domestic crises. 

In addition to the tense domestic politics in Armenia, the politicization of the aftermath of the war has flown across headlines as Azerbaijan assesses the state of Karabakh post the occupation of Armenian forces, and the Armenian political lobby responds.

International reports stated that Azerbaijan’s 44-Day war victory of 2020 in the Karabakh conflict was the result of investment in arsenal and strategy for its defense forces. As a nation rising from its knees to once again take a strong place among the international community, Azerbaijan continues to pursue training for its troops. 

The Daily Sabah was among those media entities that reported Azerbaijan’s training tactics. On March 28, the Daily Sabah reported that Turkey had provided Azerbaijani forces with mountain-region tactical training. 

“Turkey heavily put its support behind Azerbaijan, whose Nagorno-Karabakh region remained under illegal Armenian occupation until recently, with international organizations, including the United Nations, demanding the withdrawal of occupational forces,” wrote the Daily Sabah. 

Radio Free Europe had likewise reported earlier in March that the Azerbaijani forces were conducting large-scale military exercises. Armenia’s forces likewise conducted large-scale military exercises, beginning one day after Azerbaijan began its exercises on March 15. Despite the Russian-mitigated ceasefire, the two nations remain conscientious of their political strain. Karen Hovhannisian, a military expert who spoke with Radio Free Europe, stated that the exercises were part of a show of military force between the two nations. 

Radio Free Europe reported that the drills transpired during the visit of OSCE Minsk representative Anne Linde. OSCE Minsk group, composed of board members from France, the United States, and Russia, with member national chairs from various nations, continues to hold a mandate to mitigate a lasting peace in the region. As part of the OSCE Minsk Group’s role in keeping the peace, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev warned Russia against assisting Armenia with a full-modernization of its armed forces and urged Russia “not to give weapons” to Yerevan.