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Southern Karabakh Is In Fact Lost To Azerbaijan, But Armenia Continues Denying This

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Southern Karabakh Is In Fact Lost To Azerbaijan, But Armenia Continues Denying This

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As of October 23 evening, the situation on the frontline in the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains complicated for Armenian forces as they continue retreating under strikes of the Azerbaijani-Turkish bloc. The main clashes took place in the southern part of the region, where Azerbaijani troops captured another group of abandoned villages:

  • Dolanlar and Bunyadli in the Khojavand district;
  • Dagh Tumas, Nusus, Khalafli, Minbashili and Veysalli in the Jabrayil district;
  • Vanadli and Mirzahasanli in the Zangilan district;
  • Zilanli, Kurd Mahrizli, Mughanli and Alagurshag in the Gubadli district.

The Azerbaijani military insists that the Armenians lost control over the border with Iran in the area. The Armenian military denies this, but the situation on the ground indicates that this is mostly propaganda wishful thinking.

The Armenian Defense Ministry released a new report claiming that in the recent clashes Azerbaijan lost at least 80 soldiers, 8 armoured vehicles and 4 UAVs. The total numbers claimed by Armenia since the start of the war on September 27 can be found here:

Meanhile, the Azerbaijani side confirmed that Colonel Shukur Hamidov, the national hero of Azerbaijan, died during clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is the first time when Azerbaijani sources confirmed the death of high-ranking officer in the combat zone.

Southern Karabakh Is In Fact Lost To Azerbaijan, But Armenia Continues Denying This

Colonel Shukur Hamidov

Armenian forces strike military equipment of Azerbaijan:

Both Azebaijani and Armenian sources continue releasing photos and videos showing the clashes in the region. The visual evidence released by the sides also confirms the advance of Azerbaijani foroces.

The Turkish-Azerbaijani bloc is now aiming to reach the area of the Lachin corridor linking the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with Armenia. According to Armenian sources, rocket launchers of the Azerbaijani military has been already shelling the area.

HINT: The Lachin corridor is a mountain pass within the de jure borders of Azerbaijan, forming the shortest route between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Republic of Artsakh).

The Azerbaijani advance towards the corridor has been ongoing along the road in the narrow valley of the Akari River. This stretches supply lines of the advancing forces and creates conditions for potentially successful Armenian counter-attacks. Nonetheless, if the Armenian side loses momentum and Azerbaijani forces entrench in the area (even without reaching Lachin), they will be able to regularly shell this vital supply line thus undermining the ability of Armenia to provide supplies to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

In these conditions, President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arayik Harutyunyan, posted an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on his Facebook page. Harutyunyan asked the Russian leader to intensify peacekeeping efforts in the zone of the conflict. He also noted that the republic highly appreciates the efforts that Russia is making to resolve the situation in the region. Harutyunyan also recalled that it was Russia that had a decisive role in the conclusion of the 1994 Trilateral Ceasefire Agreement and the de-escalation of the conflict in 2016.

Nonetheless, it seems that one open letter will be not enough to change the Russian (relatively neutral) position towards the conflict. In previous years, the Armenian leadership (especially the government of the current Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan) was providing an open anti-Russian policy. Thus, it would be wrong to expect the Russian intervention to protect Armenian interests in the territory, which even Armenia itself does not recognize as an independent state. Thus, Moscow’s efforts will be mostly focused on the diplomatic field.

However, there are several factors that may lead to the more active Russian attitude towards the conflict. For example, on October 23, Russia stated its concern regarding the deployment of members of radical militant groups in Karabakh. The increase of the terrorist threat in the region due to the boosting presence of Turkish-backed militants (mostly Islamist radicals) there will push Moscow to more active actions to counter this threat. Another factor is the potential ethnic cleansing of Armenians on the territory captured by Azerbaijan. If this happens and is documented, this will lead to a wide international reaction. Nonetheless, the Karabakh locals (99% of them are ethnic Armenians) are not willing to temp their fate and just flee the advancing Azerbaijani forces.

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