Turkey and Azerbaijan will today launch joint military exercises in response to the recent military flare-up near the long-disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, a landlocked enclave between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Though formally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh is populated by ethnic Armenians and has been under de facto Armenian governance since the end of fighting in 1994. Post-conflict mediation efforts led by the Minsk Group—comprised of the US, Russia and France—have prevented the outbreak of a full-scale war but failed to produce a permanent political solution. The recent clashes, for which both sides blame each other, pose the greatest threat to regional security since Four Day War of April 2016.
Expect Ankara to offer military support to its Turkic allies in Azerbaijan and push Russia—which has been engaged in a delicate balancing act between Armenia and Azerbaijan despite its historical alignment with the former—to take a more assertive position. So far, Russia has offered to mediate a potential ceasefire between the two nations.
If Russia retaliates against Turkey’s move, the two countries could enter another proxy war alongside their existing conflicts in Libya and Syria. It is unlikely that Russia will escalate the situation, as doing so could halt its natural gas trade with Turkey—a real possibility now that Ankara has constructed a pipeline connecting Azeri gas to Europe and has boosted its associated energy imports.
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Esra is an analyst on the Current Developments division and a member of The Daily Brief’s research team. She specialises in political and security issues with a particular focus on the Middle East and North Africa.