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The Global Conflict Tracker is an interactive guide to ongoing conflicts around the world of concern to the United States with background information and resources. This project is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Updated March 20, 2024
Soldiers in blue camouflage stand on a street as a blue car drives past.
Refugees from the Nagorno-Karabakh region drive cars past a checkpoint in the village of Kornidzor, Armenia, on September 24, 2023.
Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters
A truck holding a group of people drives through mountains.
A truck with refugees on board rides on the road between Kornidzor and Goris on September 28, 2023.
Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images
Two soldiers stand by a stop sign in a mountainous terrain.
Azeri service members guard an area that came under the control of Azerbaijan's troops following a military conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh against ethnic Armenian forces and a further signing of a ceasefire deal on December 7, 2020.
Aziz Karamov/Reuters
A soldier faces the camera smoking a cigarette while a military vehicle is in the background.
Ethnic Armenian soldiers watch military vehicles of the Russian peacekeeping forces driving along a road in Lachin, Nagorno-Karabakh, on November 13, 2020
TPX Images of the Day via Reuters
A man stands in a a damaged red apartment building.
A man looks out from his damaged home after a ceasefire begins during the fighting over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh in the city of Terter, Azerbaijan, on October 10, 2020.
Umit Bektas/Reuters
A soldier sits on top of an armored vehicle.
Azerbaijani service members drive an armored personnel carrier in Hadrut town in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh on November 25, 2020.
Aziz Karamov/Reuters

Following Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive and occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh on September 19, 2023, the ethnic Armenian enclave was officially dissolved on January 1, 2024. Faced with the prospect of rule by Azerbaijan, more than one hundred thousand people, almost all of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population, fled to Armenia in one week. Baku plans to “reintegrate” the region and its remaining population into Azerbaijan, promising economic development. Now, attention has turned to normalizing relations and reaching a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.


In 1923, the Soviet Union established the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast—home to a 95 percent ethnically Armenian population—within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Nagorno-Karabakh’s regional legislature passed a resolution in 1988 declaring its intention to join the Republic of Armenia despite its official location within Azerbaijan. Armed fighting between the two republics, which have a long history of ethnic tension, quickly followed. Amid Soviet dissolution in 1991, just as Armenia and Azerbaijan achieved statehood, Nagorno-Karabakh officially declared independence, and full-scale war erupted. The first Karabakh war, from 1988 to 1994, resulted in roughly thirty thousand casualties and created hundreds of thousands of refugees. By 1993, Armenia had gained control of Nagorno-Karabakh and occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s geographic area. In 1994, Russia brokered a ceasefire known as the Bishkek Protocol, leaving Nagorno-Karabakh de facto independent, with a self-proclaimed government in Stepanakert, but still heavily reliant on close economic, political, and military ties with Armenia.

Since the bilateral acceptance of a ceasefire in 1994, which formally remained in force until September 2020, the use of attack drones, shelling, and special operations activities by Armenian and Azerbaijani troops have led to intermittent clashes. Early April 2016 witnessed the most intense fighting since 1994, leading to hundreds of casualties along the line of separation. After four days of fighting, the two sides announced they had agreed to cease hostilities. However, a breakdown in talks resulted in both sides accusing each other of ceasefire violations, and tensions remained high.

Following a summer of cross-border attacks, heavy fighting broke out along the Azerbaijan-Nagorno-Karabakh border in late September 2020. More than seven thousand soldiers and civilians were killed, with hundreds more Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers wounded. Both countries initially rejected pressure from the United Nations, the United States, and Russia to hold talks and end hostilities, and instead pledged to continue fighting. Tensions escalated further when both sides switched from cross-border shelling to longer-range artillery and other heavy weaponry. After several failed attempts by Russia, France, and the United States, to negotiate a ceasefire, Russia successfully brokered a deal on November 9, 2020, reinforced by Russian peacekeepers, ending the six-week Second Nagorno-Karabakh War. Azerbaijan reclaimed most of the territory it lost two decades prior, leaving Armenia with only a portion of Karabakh. The agreement also established the Lachin corridor, a small strip of land to be monitored by Russian peacekeepers that would serve as a transit route connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Negotiation and mediation efforts, primarily led by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have failed to produce a permanent solution to the conflict. The Minsk Group was created in 1994 to address the dispute and is co-chaired by the United States, France, and Russia. The three co-chairs are empowered to organize negotiations with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, separately and at summits. Although the group has successfully negotiated ceasefires, territorial disputes remain as intractable as ever.

Recent Developments

Periodic violations of the 2020 ceasefire eventually escalated into a two-day conflict beginning September 13, 2022—the most significant provocation since 2020. The death toll has been disputed, with estimates ranging from one to three hundred killed in the cross-border attacks. Azerbaijan launched attacks on several locations inside Armenian territory, which forced the evacuation of more than 2,700 civilians. Armenia and Azerbaijan have exchanged accusations of blame for initiating the violence. Despite its focus on the conflict in Ukraine, Russia claimed credit for mediating a truce between the warring parties. Additional border clashes were reported on September 21, September 23, and September 28, less than one week after the Russian-brokered truce.

In December 2022, Azerbaijani activists occupied the Lachin corridor, ostensibly protesting environmental degradation caused by illegal mining in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the protesters reportedly had state backing from Baku, and they blocked all traffic except for Red Cross and Russian convoys. The Russian peacekeepers, in place to ensure the artery remained open for Armenian supplies, were unwilling or unable to secure and reopen the highway. As a result, residents in Nagorno-Karabakh faced severe shortages and rationing.

On April 23, 2023, Azerbaijan opened a checkpoint on the highway, which it claimed was necessary to intercept and deter military shipments from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. The protests ended days later, suggesting that the government’s true objective was to block Armenian passage. Armenia and ethnic Armenian leaders in Nagorno-Karabakh condemned the checkpoint, saying Azerbaijan sought to isolate Karabakh Armenians and solidify its control over the region. Russia, meanwhile, issued only a mild statement criticizing the move. In the face of repeated efforts to restrict Armenia’s access to the region, the peacekeeping force's passivity eroded trust in Russia as a viable security guarantor.

Azerbaijan further tightened access to Nagorno-Karabakh, banning even Red Cross convoys from passing through the Lachin Corridor to the region over alleged smuggling of unsanctioned products. Azerbaijani security forces also detained an individual passing through a checkpoint for medical care in Armenia, leading to a suspension of medical evacuations for critically-ill patients. With no supplies allowed to pass through the corridor, shelves sat empty and two children died as the humanitarian crisis turned critical. Azerbaijan offered aid, but the region’s leaders rejected it, saying they would not accept aid from the country responsible for the crisis. 

On September 19, 2023, days after an agreement to reopen the Lachin Corridor for aid deliveries sparked hopes of easing the crisis, Azerbaijan launched an “anti-terrorist” offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh. Karabakh officials said at least two hundred people died in the operation, which Azerbaijan said was aimed at neutralizing Armenian military installments. Within two days, Azerbaijan claimed to have regained full control over the region, and Russia-mediated negotiations began in Yevlakh, Azerbaijan, over the disarmament of Armenian separatists and the reintegration of Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, protestors took to the streets in Yerevan, Armenia, accusing the government of failing to protect ethnic Armenians and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. At stake was the status of around 100,000 ethnic Armenians living in the disputed territory; thousands immediately fled to Armenia, fearing persecution if they stayed, and officials demanded security guarantees for those who remained before they agreed to give up their weapons.

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