Azerbaijan Asserts Its Power in the South Caucasus

A minor escalation carries an important message.

|June 26, 2018

By Xander Snyder

Over the past month, there has been a small but meaningful escalation of tensions in the breakaway region of Nakhchivan in the South Caucasus. In late May, Azerbaijani media reported that the country’s military seized new territory in Nakhchivan, an exclave of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia, Iran and Turkey. In the following two weeks, there were reports that Azerbaijan had occupied areas of northwestern Nakhchivan, including the abandoned town of Gunnut and the heights surrounding it. Then, another breakaway region, Nagorno-Karabakh, which is officially part of Azerbaijan but administered by local Armenian forces, held military exercises last week and trumpeted their success through Armenian media.

Both Nakhchivan and Nagorno-Karabakh are caught in a conflict between historical rivals Azerbaijan and Armenia, so any movement of troops in these territories by either country can be seen as an escalation. Azerbaijani media claimed that 11,000 acres of territory

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