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Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: India’s Response

Why is it in the news?

  • Recently, Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the disputedNagorno-Karabakh region, resulting in casualties. The operation is part of a long-standing dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region.
  • Despite its geographical distance from India, recent developments in the South Caucasus region hold implications for India, particularly in terms of connectivity and ties with the region.Top of Form

 The Conflict over the decades

  • Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous region officially recognized as part of Azerbaijan but predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians.
  • The region has a history of conflicts involving regional powers like imperial Russia, the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey), and the Persian Empire (Iran).
  • In 1923, the USSR established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, home to a mostly Armenian population, within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
  • Tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh escalated in 1988 when its regional legislature expressed the desire to join Armenia.
  • After the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence, leading to a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that claimed around 30,000 lives.
  • By 1993, Armenia had captured Nagorno-Karabakh and occupied 20% of Azerbaijan’s territory.
  • A ceasefire known as the Bishkek Protocol in 1994 left Nagorno-Karabakh de facto independent but reliant on ties with Armenia.
  • In 2020, Azerbaijan initiated the Second Karabakh War, regaining control over surrounding territories and parts of Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Later, Russia brokered another ceasefire and deployed peacekeepers along the Lachin Corridor.
  • Azerbaijan reportedly received support from Turkey, Pakistan, and fighters from Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan.
  • In December 2022, Azerbaijan blockaded the Lachin Corridor, causing severe shortages in Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • On September 19, 2023, Azerbaijan launched an “anti-terrorist” offensive and claimed full control over Nagorno-Karabakh.

 

 India’s Position

  • India maintains a neutral stance in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, emphasizing the need for a peaceful resolution through diplomatic negotiations.
  • India supports the OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts for a peaceful resolution between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
  • India has diplomatic ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan, valuing its relationships in the South Caucasus region.
  • Historical ties between India and Armenia date back to ancient times, with suggestions of Armenian presence in India around 2000 BC.
  • India established an embassy in Armenia in 1999, maintains a treaty relationship, and has hosted multiple Armenian Heads of State and Vice Presidents.
  • India and Armenia share common interests in supporting each other’s positions, such as Armenia’s support for India’s stance on the Kashmir issue and India’s aspiration for a permanent seat in the expanded UN Security Council.
  • In 2022, India signed a significant deal worth US $250 million to supply military equipment to Armenia, including multi-barrel rocket launchers and ammunition.
  • In contrast, India’s ties with Azerbaijan have been more recent, with limited high-level visits and interactions.
  • Azerbaijan’s proximity to Pakistan has been a potential obstacle in India-Azerbaijan relations.
  • The South Caucasus region holds strategic importance for India’s connectivity plans, particularly for the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), which India aims to develop.
  • India supports Armenia’s proposal to include Iran’s Chabahar port in the INSTC, and tensions in the region could impact India’s efforts to bypass Pakistan as a gateway to Europe and Russia.

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