Karabakh Armenians flee Azerbaijani military offensive, resulting in total Azerbaijan control over Nagorno-Karabakh region. Photo by Irakli Gedenidze), courtesy of Reuters.

Azerbaijan Forces Artsakh Government Into Surrender

After nearly 30 years of occupation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the Republic of Artsakh is dissolving in the coming year.

Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed upon a ceasefire on September 20 to stop armed conflict in the mountainous region that has been governed by ethnic Armenians as a sovereign state since 1994 (dubbed the Republic of Artsakh). Despite the agreement to halt military offensive, Azerbaijan had continued their pressure on the area. Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fiery. Conflicts specifically in the Nagorno-Karabakh region have sparked into two separate wars, one in 1994 and another in 2020. The Republic of Artsakh is Armenian-led, but exists within the internationally recognized region of Azerbaijan, leading to mounting pressure on the republic to surrender.

Artsakh president Samvel Shahramanyan (he/him) has agreed to dissolve the sovereign state by January 1, 2024, and surrender all institutions to Azerbaijan. The fleeing Armenians in the Republic of Artsakh back to Armenia in response to the Azerbaijani military offensive has led to the actions being labeled as ethnic cleansing by some. The International Criminal Court has expressed that the forcible deportation aspects of ethnic cleansing “is not restricted to physical force, but may include threat of force or coercion, such as that caused by fear of violence, duress, detention, psychological oppression or abuse of power.”

Due to the ambiguity of state control of Nagorno-Karabakh, there are few options to potentially prosecute Azerbaijan officials for war crimes.

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