The Hidden War of Nagorno-Karabakh

Staff Writer: Mitchell Dokos 

Hidden, brutal, and savage conflicts have been plaguing the state of Armenia and Azerbaijan for years. Recently a war broke out, but many have not heard about it. When questioned many gave the answer that they did not know anything about the war.  

When asked what he thought about the conflict, Woodstock High School senior Angelo Colon-Moreno had this to say: “I do not know anything other than what you’ve told me.” Many others gave the same answer, which I found surprising.  

The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War was an armed conflict arising from two countries with a past of hatred for each other. Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at each other’s throats for many years. The region of Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding territories is where the latest scraps of unresolved conflict are occurring. Internationally, the region is recognized to be a part of Azerbaijan but was semi-governed by Armenians due to a previous conflict. Many battles had already been fought there but had deescalated quickly. 

This time it was different. In the early morning of Sept. 27, 2020, a large skirmish had broken out along the line between the Armenian governed sector and the Azerbaijan sector, which was established during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994).  

This conflict led to a full-scale war lasting six weeks. A total of 5,970 causalities, at least 169 of those being civilians. Both sides have accused each other of committing war crimes: 22 videos of brutal executions, mistreatment of prisoners, and the desecration of the fallen soldiers.  

In the end Azerbaijan captured almost all the territory completely wiping out the Armenian resistance. After the capture of Shusha, a ceasefire was brokered by Russia ending the war in Azerbaijan’s favor. Russian peacekeepers are now deployed in the area to decrease the risk of engagement.  

Photo Credit: Sergei Grits 
Russian Peacekeepers Patrolling the Nagorno-Karabakh region.  

Azerbaijan has gone as far as to open a museum holding items of fallen Armenians soldiers and other seized Armenians items such as armor and vehicles. The Spoils of War Museum has been open to the public since early April. The museum shows helmets, tanks, uniforms, and Armenian dummies in different areas. The museum has angered Armenians accusing Azerbaijan of “intolerance and xenophobia” and that the park is “publicly humiliating” the dead and prisoners. To which Azerbaijan responded stating that they had the right to “immortalize” their victory. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images 
The Spoils of War Museum Showcasing the Seized Armenian Helmets 

Since the ceasefire, many incidents have followed leading to more death and fighting. Nearly one month after the ceasefire was put into place localized battles had been fought causing Azerbaijan to seize two villages previously occupied by Armenian leaving eight dead and 62 Armenians detained. More recently, three soldiers dead and seven wounded was reported by Armenian and Azerbaijan at the Kelbajar-Vardenis border section. Another ceasefire, brokered by Russia, was put into place to reopen negotiation. 

The conflict is far from over and could escalate into something bigger. New battles are fought monthly. When asked if he thinks more skirmishes will follow, Woodstock High School senior Blake Hopster stated, “More needs to be done for the conflict to truly end.” With no end in sight, more Americans need to be informed on the topic. 

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