Wednesday marked the 31st anniversary of the beginning of the Nagorno-Karabakh war. It’s a conflict that has its origins some seven decades earlier, when Soviet leader Josef Stalin decided to allocate the majority ethnic Armenian region to Azerbaijan. For decades, the Soviet Union managed to quell the ethnic tensions there, but as the union neared collapse, Nagorno-Karabakh voted in a referendum to secede from Azerbaijan and subsequently declared its independence. In 1988, Azerbaijan and Armenia went to war over possession of the region. The most intense fighting lasted for six years, until a cease-fire was declared in 1994, but the conflict remains unresolved and sporadic clashes continue to this day.
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Russia’s interest in Nagorno-Karabakh is due to its location in the South Caucasus, a region Moscow doesn’t want to see dominated by powerful countries to the south, such as Iran and Turkey, which could threaten Russia’s own territory in the North Caucasus. T
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