Azerbaijan and Armenia: The Nagorno-
January 7, 2021
Karabakh Conflict
Cory Welt
In autumn 2020, a six-week war in the South Caucasus reshaped the dynamics of a decades-old
Specialist in Russian and
conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The dispute centers on the predominantly Armenian-
European Affairs
populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh (or Mountainous Karabakh, also known in Armenian as

Artsakh) and surrounding territories internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The war has
Andrew S. Bowen
resulted in Azerbaijani control over much of the territory it lost to Armenian and Nagorno-
Analyst in Russian and
Karabakh forces during previous fighting in the 1990s, including a portion of Nagorno-Karabakh
European Affairs
and almost all of the surrounding territories. Armenians have retained control over the remaining

territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the urban center of Stepanakert. A cease-fire agreement
mediated by the Russian Federation introduced about 2,000 Russian troops into the conflict zone

to serve as peacekeeping forces and to guarantee the security of a land corridor between Armenia
and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The local and regional consequences of the autumn 2020 war continue to unfold. The war led to more than 6,000 combat
deaths and more than 150 civilian deaths. It also displaced tens of thousands of people, although many have returned. In
addition, the Azerbaijani government now is considering how to resettle hundreds of thousands of people who were displaced
from the conflict zone in the 1990s , which will require major demining and construction efforts. The 2020 war did not
resolve the disputed political status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and it upended a long-standing international conflict resolution
framework that emerged after the 1990s conflict. It also led to political turmoil in Armenia and strengthened the government
of Azerbaijan. The 2020 war also may increase the influence of regional powers Russia and Turkey, and potentially Iran.
Long-standing U.S. policy over several Administrations has been to facilitate a resolution to the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict
that would achieve a negotiated settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh’s political status, peaceably restore Azerbaijani control over
territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, and provide security for residents of and returnees to the conflict zone. In
response to the cease-fire agreement, the U.S. Department of State noted that “ending the recent fighting is only the first step
toward achieving a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”
Many Members of Congress issued statements in response to the outbreak of armed conflict. In October 2020, three related
resolutions were introduced in the House (H.Res. 1165, H.Res. 1196, and H.Res. 1203) and one related resolution was
introduced in the Senate (S.Res. 754). The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260, Division W, Title VI,
§615), requires the Director of National Intelligence to submit to the congressional intelligence committees an assessment
regarding tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, “including with respect to the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”
U.S. assistance has sought to mitigate the effects of the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, including through demining assistance.
The United States has adhered to a principle of parity with regard to Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for
Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Department of Defense has provided separate capacity-building assistance to Azerbaijan for
border and maritime security. Since 2001, an annually renewable presidential waiver to Section 907 of the FREEDOM
Support Act (P.L. 102-511; 22 U.S.C. 5812 note) has enabled the provision of U.S. military aid and other foreign assistance
to Azerbaijan; without the waiver, Section 907 would prohibit most bilateral assistance to Azerbaijan unless the President
determined Azerbaijan had made “demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.”
The autumn 2020 war heightened awareness of the danger of mines and new unexploded ordnance in the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict zone and of other humanitarian challenges. In November 2020, the State Department indicated it would provide $5
million in humanitarian assistance “to assist people affected by the recent fighting.” Prior to the conflict, several Members of
Congress had supported a continuation of demining assistance. Some Members have called for the provision of new
assistance related to the conflict and for a review of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan and the Section 907 waiver. In the 117th
Congress, Members of Congress may address immediate and longer-term consequences of the 2020 war, including assistance
needs, the future of international mediation efforts, and changes in regional power dynamics.
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Introduction ................................................................................................................... 1
Background.................................................................................................................... 1

Conflict Resolution Process ........................................................................................ 3
Conflict Resolution Efforts in 2018 and 2019................................................................. 4
Relations with Russia and Turkey ................................................................................ 5
Russia ................................................................................................................ 5
Turkey ................................................................................................................ 7
Autumn 2020 War ........................................................................................................... 7
Role of Turkey ........................................................................................................ 12
Role of Russia......................................................................................................... 13
November 2020 Agreement ............................................................................................ 13
Impact of the War in Armenia and Azerbaijan .................................................................... 16
U.S. Responses ............................................................................................................. 17
Congressional Response ........................................................................................... 18
Related U.S. Assistance.................................................................................................. 19
Demining ............................................................................................................... 20
Congressional Action on Assistance............................................................................ 21
Outlook ....................................................................................................................... 21

Figure 1. Armenia and Azerbaijan...................................................................................... 2
Figure 2. Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Zone....................................................................... 10
Figure 3. Cease-Fire Agreement of November 9, 2020 ........................................................ 14

Author Information ....................................................................................................... 22

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In autumn 2020, a six-week war fundamental y reshaped the dynamics of a decades-old conflict
between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh (or Mountainous
Karabakh, also known in Armenian as Artsakh) and surrounding territories international y
recognized as part of Azerbaijan.1 Many observers assess that the autumn 2020 war began as an
Azerbaijani offensive to retake at least some territories Azerbaijan lost to Armenian/Nagorno-
Karabakh forces in the early 1990s, after the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR, of which Azerbaijan and Armenia were both part). For the United States, the
war and its aftermath raise policy issues regarding relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan, post-
conflict assistance and settlement efforts, and regional power shifts and dynamics between NATO
al y Turkey and Russia (as wel as, potential y, neighboring Iran).
During fighting from September to November 2020, Azerbaijani forces captured territory—
eventual y including the strategical y located town of Shusha (in Armenian, Shushi)—through
several advances. Poised to attack Nagorno-Karabakh’s urban center of Stepanakert (in
Azerbaijani, Khankendi), Azerbaijan ceased offensive operations after Armenia agreed to a cease-
fire agreement mediated by the Russian Federation. The agreement obliged Armenian/Nagorno-
Karabakh forces to withdraw from additional territories they had controlled since the 1990s and
introduced about 2,000 Russian troops into the conflict zone as peacekeeping forces.
The autumn 2020 war was a short but brutal conflict that ultimately did not resolve the disputed
political status of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the war’s local and regional consequences
continue to unfold. The conflict led to the deaths of at least a few thousand armed personnel on
each side and dozens of civilians. Azerbaijan recovered territories that had been lost to it for more
than a quarter of a century, and the Azerbaijani government has promised to make the investments
necessary to enable hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis displaced in the 1990s to return to the
region. Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh have gained a new sense of insecurity, tempered by the
presence of Russian forces, and many remain displaced. A new balance of power exists between
Azerbaijan and Armenia, and regional powers Russia and Turkey have increased their influence.
This report focuses on the Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict, the autumn 2020 war, and related U.S.
policy. It first provides brief historical background and then discusses the post-1994 conflict
resolution process and the relationships of Azerbaijan and Armenia with regional powers Russia
and Turkey. In addition, the report provides analysis of the autumn 2020 war, the November 2020
cease-fire agreement, and the war’s domestic impact in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The report then
discusses U.S. responses to the war, longer-term U.S. policy toward the conflict, and the role of
For a map of Armenia and Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone prior to the
2020 war, see Figure 1. For a more detailed map of the conflict zone prior to the 2020 war, see
Figure 2. For a map of the November 2020 cease-fire boundaries, see Figure 3.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are located in the South Caucasus region, together with neighboring
Georgia. The South Caucasus is a region between the Black and Caspian Seas that is separated
from Russia by the Greater Caucasus mountain range and also borders Iran and Turkey (see
Figure 1). Azerbaijanis and Armenians historical y have intermixed but have distinct ethnic and

1 T his report uses the term Nagorno-Karabakh, except where other terms are included in direct quotations.
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Azerbaijan and Armenia: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

religious identities (Azerbaijanis are mostly Muslim, Armenians mostly Christian), and they have
fought bitter conflicts in the past.
The political and demographic history of Nagorno-Karabakh is fiercely contested. The region’s
majority ethnic Armenian population claims a dominant historical presence in Nagorno-
Karabakh. In the latter half of the 18th century, the region became the center of the larger
Karabakh khanate, a semi-independent Turkic (early Azerbaijani) principality formal y
subordinated to Iran before it was conquered by the Russian Empire in the early 19th century. By
1832, according to one scholar of the region, Armenians “constituted an overwhelming majority
of the population” in the highland territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and made up about one-third of
the population in the larger territory that was previously part of the former Karabakh khanate.2
Figure 1. Armenia and Azerbaijan
(line of control prior to the 2020 war)

Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS), using data from
the U.S. Department of State, ESRI, Garmin, and ArcWorld.
Boundaries are not necessarily authoritative.
Azerbaijanis and Armenians fought for control over Nagorno-Karabakh and other territories
during a brief period of independence after Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. Azerbaijan and
Armenia were incorporated into the USSR in 1920-1922 as constituent republics. Over the
objection of Armenian Bolsheviks, Nagorno-Karabakh was assigned to Soviet Azerbaijan in 1921
and was formal y established and demarcated in 1923. As part of the USSR through 1991,
Nagorno-Karabakh was official y an autonomous region (oblast) within Soviet Azerbaijan.
According to a 1989 census, the region had a population of 189,000 (77% Armenian, 22%
Conflict arose in 1988, after the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh sought to transfer
jurisdiction of the region to Soviet Armenia. Soviet authorities declined to redraw the borders, but
the effort and ensuing mass mobilization and violent clashes sparked conflict between the
Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, supported by Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The struggle led to
violence and the displacement of Armenians and Azerbaijanis outside Nagorno-Karabakh. The
conflict further escalated in 1991, as the Soviet government sought to counter moves toward

2 George A. Bournoutian, trans., Two Chronicles on the History of Karabagh (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers,
2004), p. 24 (n. 1).
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independence by Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh declared
independence from Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan abolished Nagorno-Karabakh’s autonomous
After the December 1991 dissolution of the USSR, Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces
fought directly, with Azerbaijani forces suffering several major defeats. Armenia and Azerbaijan
signed a cease-fire in May 1994, leaving Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh forces in control of most
of Nagorno-Karabakh and several surrounding territories, in total representing about 14% of
Azerbaijan’s land area. Observers estimate the conflict resulted in around 20,000 deaths and more
than 1 mil ion displaced persons. The displaced included about 500,000 Azerbaijanis from areas
surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh and the region itself, about 185,000 Azerbaijanis from Armenia,
and more than 350,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan.3
In 1993, the United Nations Security Council passed four resolutions concerning the Azerbaijan-
Armenia conflict. In addition to cal ing for a cessation of hostilities, the resolutions “reaffirm[ed]
the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Azerbaijani Republic and of al other States in the
region,” as wel as the “inadmissibility of the use of force for the acquisition of territory.” The
resolutions cal ed for “the withdrawal of occupying forces” from “recently occupied areas” of
Conflict Resolution Process
To facilitate peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, several countries under the auspices of
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) established the Minsk Group in
1994, with the United States, France, and Russia serving as co-chair countries.5 Since 2007, the
Minsk Group co-chairs have framed their settlement efforts on the basis of six “Basic Principles
for the Peaceful Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict” (also known as the Madrid
Principles).6 The principles are as follows:
1. Return of the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control
2. An interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh providing guarantees for security and
3. A corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh
4. Future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a
legal y binding expression of popular wil
5. The right of al internal y displaced persons and refugees to return to their former
places of residence

3 Ethnic Kurds and Russians in Armenia and Azerbaijan also were displaced. T homas de Waal, Black Garden: Armenia
and Azerbaijan Through Peace and War
(New York: NYU Press, 2013, revised and updated edition), pp. 327 -328.
4 United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 822 (1993), April 30, 1993; UNSCR 853 (1993), July 29,
1993; UNSCR 874 (1993), October 14, 1993; UNSCR 884 (1993), November 12, 1993. Resolution texts are available
5 T he Minsk Group was formed on the basis of a grouping of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) member states designated in 1992 to be participants in a “ Minsk Conference” that was never held. According
to the OSCE, permanent members of the Minsk Group include, together with the co -chairs, Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Belarus, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, and T urkey, as well as the OSCE’s current chairing state, together with the
previous and succeeding chairs. OSCE, “OSCE Minsk Group,” at; T homas de Waal,
“Remaking the Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Process,” Survival, vol. 52, no. 4 (August 2010), pp. 159-176.
6 OSCE, “Statement by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chair Countries,” July 10, 2009.
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6. International security guarantees that would include a peacekeeping operation
Armenia and Azerbaijan conducted negotiations on the basis of these principles, but they
achieved little progress toward settlement. Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh leaders sought to
achieve a negotiated resolution that would ensure Nagorno-Karabakh’s separation from
Azerbaijan, whether as an independent state or united with Armenia. They viewed territories
around Nagorno-Karabakh occupied by Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh forces as a buffer zone and
a bargaining chip for negotiations concerning Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status. In recent years,
many Armenians expressed support for the permanent retention of these territories, in which an
estimated 17,000 of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 147,000 residents had settled.7
Azerbaijani leaders insisted on Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and on
Azerbaijanis’ right to return to their homes. They also said Azerbaijan was prepared to use force
to retake territories, if this could not be achieved through negotiations. Although Azerbaijani
authorities claimed sovereignty over both Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions, they
emphasized the importance of first returning the surrounding territories to Azerbaijan and
occasional y suggested a resolution to the political status of Nagorno-Karabakh could be
Since the 1994 cease-fire until 2016, observers estimate that dozens of troops and civilians on
both sides were kil ed each year along the dividing “line of contact,” which was more than 150
miles long, as wel as along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.9 In April 2016, a serious round of
hostilities occurred over a three-day period; the fighting resulted in at least 200 reported
casualties and in Azerbaijan gaining control of two strategic heights in previously Armenian-held
territory.10 Russian mediation helped to establish a new cease-fire agreement.
Conflict Resolution Efforts in 2018 and 2019
In 2018, a change of government in Armenia gave rise to new efforts to address the long-
simmering conflict. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan became Armenia’s first leader in
20 years who is not original y from Nagorno-Karabakh.11 After Pashinyan came to power as the
head of a popular democratic movement, some observers were hopeful that Armenia and
Azerbaijan could be encouraged to initiate new efforts to resolve the conflict or, at least, to reduce
tensions. The United States, Russia, and France, as co-chairs of the Minsk Group, expressed
renewed interest in engagement and welcomed both governments’ wil ingness to take “concrete
measures to prepare the populations for peace.”12 Observers noted a decline of cease-fire
violations and casualties, and Armenia and Azerbaijan reportedly replaced military forces with

7 For details, see International Crisis Group (ICG), Digging Out of Deadlock in Nagorno-Karabakh, December 20,
2019. Hereinafter, ICG, Digging Out of Deadlock.
8 ICG, Digging Out of Deadlock.
9 See, for example, ICG, Armenia and Azerbaijan: A Season of Risks, September 26, 2013; Emil Sanamyan,
“Armenian-Azerbaijani Attrition War Escalates,” Armenian Weekly, January 14, 2016; U.S. Department of State,
“Background Briefing on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict,” May 16, 2016.
10 Official reports indicated the fighting led to around 200 casualties. A U.S. State Department official estimated there
had been 350 casualties. U.S. Department of State, “ Background Briefing on the Nagorno -Karabakh Conflict,” May 16,
2016; ICG, Nagorno-Karabakh’s Gathering War Clouds, June 1, 2017.
11 Before 2018, the presidency was Armenia’s most powerful political position. Former Presidents Robert K ocharyan
(1998-2008) and Serzh Sargsyan (2008-2018), both originally from Nagorno-Karabakh, played leading roles in
Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence movement .
12 OSCE, “ Press Statement by the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,” January 6, 2019.
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civilian security forces along parts of their international border.13 Many observers, however, were
skeptical that a new conflict resolution effort could succeed.
Like most Armenian politicians, Pashinyan has expressed firm support for Nagorno-Karabakh’s
separation from Azerbaijan. The day after he became prime minister, Pashinyan visited Nagorno-
Karabakh and cal ed for the inclusion of local authorities in peace talks.14 In August 2019,
Pashinyan visited Nagorno-Karabakh, where he declared that the region “is Armenia—period.”15
The Azerbaijani government said it would defend its claims to the region and rejected Armenia’s
proposal to include Nagorno-Karabakh authorities in talks.
In March 2019, Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held an official meeting
facilitated by the Minsk Group co-chairs.16 A joint statement issued by the Armenian and
Azerbaijani foreign ministers and the heads of delegation of the Minsk Group co-chairs
(hereinafter, Minsk co-chairs) stated that the presidents “exchanged views about several key
issues of the settlement process and ideas of substance [and] recommitted to strengthening the
cease-fire and improving the mechanism for direct communication.”17
In a September 2019 meeting with the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers, the Minsk co-
chairs “noted the positive effects of the sides’ efforts to minimize violence during the summer
period, including the use of the existing direct communication links.” The Minsk co-chairs
“encouraged the sides to minimize the use of rhetoric that is inflammatory or prejudges the
outcome of negotiations.”18
In December 2019, the Minsk co-chairs took “positive note of the relatively low level of violence
along the Line of Contact and international border and credit[ed] the sides for utilizing fully the
direct communication links between them to reduce the risk of escalation.”19 Despite
expectations, however, tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia worsened in 2020, leading to a
brief border skirmish in July and to the autumn war, which caught many observers by surprise.
Relations with Russia and Turkey
Regional powers Russia and Turkey have played complex roles in the Azerbaijan-Armenia
conflict. The historical and current ties of Armenia and Azerbaijan with both countries are
detailed in the following sections.
Russia has strong security and economic ties to Armenia. Many observers contend that Armenia
has retained such ties to Russia due to a widespread belief in Armenia that only Russia can
provide security guarantees against Azerbaijan and Turkey, with which Armenians have a

13 Ilgar Gurbanov, “ Karabakh Peace T alks Break Down as Azerbaijan and Armenia Operate at Cross-Purposes,”
Eurasia Daily Monitor, March 4, 2019.
14 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), “Armenia’s Pashinian Calls for Karabakh Leaders’ Involvement in
Peace T alks,” May 9, 2018.
15 Joshua Kucera, “Pashinyan Calls for Unification Between Armenia and Karabakh,” Eurasianet, August 6, 2019.
16 Before this meeting, the two presidents had met informally three times on the sidelines of international meetings.
17 OSCE, “ Joint Statement by the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Co -chairs of the OSCE Minsk
Group,” March 29, 2019.
18 OSCE, “Press Statement by the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,” September 25, 2019.
19 OSCE, “Joint Statement by the Heads of Delegation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chair Countries,” December 5,
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traumatic and difficult history (see “Turkey,” below). At the same time, many Armenians have
questioned Russia’s reliability as a security guarantor and economic partner. After Armenia’s
2018 change in government, the country’s political leadership pursued democracy and
governance reforms that put a new strain on its relationship with Russia.
Russia guarantees Armenia’s security through collective and bilateral treaties. Both countries are
members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Member states of the CSTO
commit to defend the territorial integrity of other CSTO members in the event of aggression.
Russia and Armenia also have a bilateral agreement that commits Russian troops stationed in
Armenia to provide for Armenia’s security.20 These commitments do not official y extend to
Nagorno-Karabakh, however. Prior to the autumn 2020 conflict, observers debated whether and
under what circumstances Russia would intervene overtly if hostilities were to resume.21
Russia maintains a military presence in Armenia at the 102nd military base, located in Gyumri.
The base is estimated to house around 3,000-4,000 soldiers in one motor rifle brigade (consisting
of three motor rifle battalions and one tank battalion), one squadron of Mig-29 multi-role fighters,
air defense systems, and various attack and transport helicopters.22 Although the base is not
equipped with Russia’s latest frontline equipment, it represents a significant force for Armenia’s
territorial defense. In 2016, Russia and Armenia concluded an agreement to host a joint air
defense network that integrates Russia’s capabilities in the region.23
Azerbaijan and Russia also have maintained good relations. Since the 1990s, Azerbaijan has been
led by authoritarian governments that have sought to maintain independence from Russia. At the
same time, these governments have sought Moscow’s support to balance domestic and
international pressures.
Russia is a major military supplier to both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both countries primarily
operate Russian and upgraded Soviet-era equipment, including tanks and artil ery. Prior to the
autumn 2020 war, Russia al egedly pursued a policy of parity so neither side would gain a
significant advantage over the other. In doing so, Russia balanced Azerbaijan’s purchases of
advanced weaponry by providing Armenia with weapons and military equipment at subsidized
prices and through loans. Russia has provided Armenia with advanced capabilities, such as the
9K720 Iskander-M short-range bal istic missile and SU-30SM fighters.24 In recent years, Russia
apparently has been unwil ing to provide Azerbaijan with its most advanced weaponry, causing
Azerbaijan to diversify its arms purchases away from Russia and toward other international

20 RFE/RL, “Russia, Armenia Sign Extended Defense Pact,” August 19, 2010; Azad Garibov, “Pashinyan T ries to
Leverage Armenia’s CST O Membership Against Azerbaijan,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, December 13, 2019.
21 See, for example, RFE/RL, “Russian-Armenian Defense Pact ‘Will Prevent New War in Karabakh,’” August 18,
2010; Joshua Kucera, “Azerbaijan: Russia Stopped U.S. from ‘Breaking Armenia’s Resistance’ in 2016,” Eurasianet,
July 14, 2017.
22 International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance 2020, February 13, 2020, p. 208.
Hereinafter, IISS, Military Balance.
23 Reuters, “Armenia Ratifies Agreement on Joint Air-Defense System with Russia,” June 30, 2016.
24 T hese advanced systems played little role in the 2020 war. Observers suggest the Armenian government may have
been concerned about escalating the conflict and, possibly, did not have missiles to arm its SU -30SM fighters. Eduard
Abrahamyan, “Armenia’s New Ballistic Missiles Will Shake Up the Neighborhood,” National Interest, October 12,
2016; Eduard Abrahamyan, “Russian Loan Allows Armenia to Upgrade Military Capabilities,” CACI Analyst, January
8, 2018; Massis Post, “ Armenia’s Air Force Equipped with State-of-the-Art Sukhoi Su-30SM Fighter Jets,” December
27, 2019.
25 Dylan Malyasov, “Azerbaijan Unveils Newest Artillery Systems During Large-Scale Military Exercises,” Defence
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Turkey is Azerbaijan’s most important strategic partner, and the two countries share close ethnic
and linguistic ties. In support of Azerbaijan, Turkey shut its land border with Armenia in 1993,
leaving Armenia with land access to Georgia in the north and Iran in the south.
Turkey-Armenia relations are further strained by a dispute over the World War I-era internal
deportation and mass kil ings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which Armenia recognizes as
genocide but the Turkish government does not. In 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives and
the U.S. Senate agreed to separate resolutions expressing their sense that it is the policy of the
United States “to commemorate the Armenian Genocide through official recognition and
remembrance” (H.Res. 296, S.Res. 150).26
Turkish authorities frequently have stated that Armenian withdrawal from Azerbaijani territories
is a condition for normalization of relations. In 2009, Armenia and Turkey launched a process of
rapprochement to reopen their land border and restore diplomatic relations. Partly due to
Azerbaijan’s influence on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, however, Turkey’s parliament did not
ratify the agreed protocols. The Armenian government also faced domestic opposition to the
protocols and, in the absence of Turkish ratification, eventual y suspended its efforts in the
rapprochement process.27 Armenia official y canceled the protocols in 2018.28 Now that Armenian
forces have withdrawn from Azerbaijani territories, some observers have speculated about the
impact of the 2020 war on Turkish-Armenian relations.29
Autumn 2020 War
On September 27, 2020, major new fighting erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenian/Nagorno-
Karabakh forces defending Nagorno-Karabakh.30 In previous months, political tensions between
Armenia and Azerbaijan had increased.31 Between July 12 and July 16, 2020, Armenia and
Azerbaijan exchanged artil ery fire along their border, some 185 miles north of Nagorno-
Karabakh. Although it is unclear what precisely sparked the July conflict, some analysts believe
the events reflected an unintended escalation rather than a premeditated action.32 The conflict

Blog, September 18, 2017; Ilgar Gurbanov, “ Azerbaijan’s Acquisitions of New Missile Systems from Belarus and
Israel: T he Domestic and Regional Context,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, June 19, 2018; Ilgar Gurbanov, “Military
Procurements on Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s Defense Agendas,” CACI Analyst, March 27, 2019.
26 For more on U.S. policy and congressional action on this issue, see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and
U.S. Relations
, by Jim Zanotti and Clayton T homas.
27 For more, see David L. Phillips, Diplomatic History: The Turkey-Armenia Protocols, Institute for the Study of
Human Rights (Columbia University), March 2012.
28 RFE/RL, “Armenia Scrapping Protocols to Normalize Relations with T urkey,” March 1, 2018 .
29, “T homas de Waal: Karabakh Agreement Is Humiliating for the Armenian Side,” November 11, 2020;
Kemal Kirisci and Behlul Ozkan, “After Russia’s Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire, Could T urkey Step Up Next for a
Lasting Peace?,” Just Security, November 16, 2020.
30 Prior to the onset of fighting, Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh forces (also known as the Artsakh Defense Army)
reportedly totaled around 60,000-65,000 troops (including an estimated 18,000 -20,000 troops from Nagorno-
Karabakh). While nominally independent, Nagorno-Karabakh forces reportedly have operated as a branch of the
Armenian military under a combined command-and-control system. Armenian and Nagorno-Karabakh forces are
equipped with Soviet/Russian tanks, artillery, missile, and anti-tank capabilities. Eduard Abrahamyan, “ Russian Loan
Allows Armenia to Upgrade Military Capabilities,” CACI Analyst, January 8, 2018; IISS, Military Balance, pp. 183,
31 Laurence Broers, “Armenia and Azerbaijan’s Season of Symbolic Offensives,” Chatham House, June 18, 2020.
32 Max Seddon, “Hostilities Escalate Between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Financial Times, July 19, 2020; ICG,
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official y resulted in the deaths of at least 17 military personnel (12 Azerbaijani, 5 Armenian) and
1 Azerbaijani civilian.33
The July 2020 clashes led to greater talk of war in Azerbaijan and of determined resistance in
Armenia. In Azerbaijan, tens of thousands of protestors cal ed on the government to react with
greater force; after some protestors temporarily occupied Azerbaijan’s parliament, protests were
forcibly dispersed.34 On July 16, Azerbaijani President Aliyev criticized Foreign Minister Elmar
Mammadyarov, a long-standing participant in conflict negotiations, for al eged passivity and
replaced him with then-Minister of Education Jeyhun Bayramov, a novice diplomat.35 In
Armenia, Prime Minister Pashinyan cal ed to further strengthen “the common security system” of
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and said “the Azerbaijani myth that its army can defeat the
Armenian army, and thus Armenia and Artsakh should make concessions, has vanished.”36
After the July 2020 clashes, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan persisted. In July,
Azerbaijani officials began to criticize Russian military transport flights to Armenia they al eged
were arms deliveries. Russian authorities denied these al egations, arguing that flights from
Russia conveyed construction equipment for Russia’s military base in Armenia.37 In August,
Azerbaijan conducted large-scale military exercises with Turkey, which had expressed strong
support for Azerbaijan during the July clashes.38 Turkey reportedly also sold Azerbaijan more
than $120 mil ion worth of military equipment in the first nine months of 2020.39 In August and
September, Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of instigating various cross-border
Many observers assess that the autumn 2020 war began as an Azerbaijani offensive to retake at
least some territories Azerbaijan lost to Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh forces in the early 1990s
(see “Background”).41 Azerbaijani officials initial y stated that the offensive began in response to

Preventing a Bloody Harvest on Arm enia -Azerbaijan State Border, July 24, 2020; Neil Hauer, “ Armenia and
Azerbaijan Are at War Again—and Not in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Foreign Policy, August 24, 2020 (hereinafter, Hauer,
“Armenia and Azerbaijan at War Again”).
33 Avet Demourian, “Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Fighting Escalates; 16 Killed,” Washington Post, July 17, 2020;
Hauer, “Armenia and Azerbaijan at War Again.”
34 Eurasianet, “Pro-War Azerbaijani Protestors Break into Parliament,” July 15, 2020.
35 Joshua Kucera, “Azerbaijan Fires Foreign Minister,” Eurasianet, July 16, 2020.
36 Lragir, “July Victories T ook Us to New Level of Resilience: PM Pashinyan,” July 23, 2020.
37 Reuters, “Azerbaijan Accuses Moscow of Arming Armenia Since July Clashes,” August 29, 2020; Rahim Rahimov,
“Azerbaijani President Rebukes Putin over Russian Military Cargo Deliveries to Armenia,” Eurasia Daily Monitor,
September 11, 2020.
38 Vasif Huseynov, “Azerbaijan, T urkey Hold Large-Scale Military Drills Amidst Escalation of T ensions with
Armenia,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, August 14, 2020.
39 Purchases included Bayraktar T B2 drones, which can be armed with MAM laser -guided smart munitions. Can
Kasapoglu, “T urkey’s Heavy ‘T iger’ Rocket Spotted in Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan Exclave,” Eurasia Daily Monitor,
May 18, 2020; Sebastien Roblin, “T urkish Drones over Nagorno-Karabakh—and Other Updates from a Day-Old War,”
Forbes, September 28, 2020; Ece T oksabay, “ T urkish Arms Sales to Azerbaijan Surged Before Nagorno -Karabakh
Fighting,” Reuters, October 14, 2020.
40 Hetq, “Armenia Condemns Azerbaijan’s ‘Degrading’ T reatment of Armenian Army Officer,” August 27, 2020;
Asbarez, “ Soldier Killed by Azerbaijani Forces in Armenia,” September 16, 2020; Akbar Mammadov, “ Azerbaijani
Serviceman Killed in Armenian Attack on Border,” Azernews, September 21, 2020; Vasif Huseynov, “Another War on
the Horizon in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict?,” Euractiv, September 22, 2020.
41 Sebastien Roblin, “T anks Ablaze as Azerbaijani Forces Attack Armenian T roops in Disputed Nagorno -Karabakh,”
Forbes, September 27, 2020; Michael Kofman and Leonid Nersisyan, “ T he Second Nagorno -Karabakh War, T wo
Weeks In,” War on the Rocks, October 14, 2020 (hereinafter, Kofman and Nersisyan, “Second Nagorno -Karabakh
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Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh fire, although it is not clear what evidence exists for this claim.42
Over six weeks, Azerbaijan’s armed forces gradual y made inroads against Armenian/Nagorno-
Karabakh positions in territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh and, eventual y, within
Nagorno-Karabakh itself.43
The war was seen by many regional observers to have demonstrated Azerbaijan’s qualitative
military advantage over Armenia, due in part to an extensive military buildup over the last
decade. Purchases of advanced weapons systems improved Azerbaijan’s reconnaissance and
precision-strike capabilities, which may have contributed to a growth in Azerbaijani military
confidence. During the war, Azerbaijan relied heavily on the use of drones, including equipment
purchased from Turkey and Israel, to identify, target, and attack Armenian defensive positions and
armored units.44 Air defenses in Nagorno-Karabakh mainly consisted of older Soviet or Russian
systems, which were largely ineffective against newer Azerbaijani drones. Armenian/Nagorno-
Karabakh forces suffered heavy armored equipment losses and were unable to coordinate reserves
for launching counterattacks against Azerbaijani forces.45 Nevertheless, they were able to repulse
initial Azerbaijani advances in mountainous terrain in the northern part of Nagorno-Karabakh.46
Throughout October 2020, Azerbaijani mechanized units made significant headway in the
southern lowlands between Nagorno-Karabakh (a largely mountainous territory) and Iran.
Azerbaijani forces took territory in the regions of Fuzuli, Jabrayil, and Zangilan and eventual y
secured Azerbaijan’s entire border with Iran (for maps, see Figure 2 and Figure 3). Fighting also
was reported in the southern part of Nagorno-Karabakh, around the town of Hadrut.47 Azerbaijani
forces then attempted to capture Lachin, a town strategical y situated along the road connecting
Armenia with Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s urban center. After heavy fighting, Armenian
counterattacks and artil ery repulsed Azerbaijani units.48

42 Vasif Huseynov, “Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict Ignites Again in Karabakh,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 28,
43 Ann M. Simmons, “Azerbaijan Makes Gains in Conflict with Armenia, Setting Back Peace Efforts,” Wall Street
November 6, 2020.
44 Reporting suggests Azerbaijan benefited from T urkish military advice, which was critical for the effective use of
drones and precision artillery strikes. Azerbaijan also has used armed drones and loitering munitions (commonly
referred to as kam ikaze drones) purchased from Israel. Seth J. Frantzman, “ Israeli Drones in Azerbaijan Raise
Questions on Use in the Battlefield,” Jerusalem Post, October 1, 2020; Mike Eckel, “Drone Wars: In Nagorno-
Karabakh, the Future of Warfare Is Now,” RFE/RL, October 9, 2020; Fuad Shahbazov, “ T actical Reasons Behind
Military Breakthrough in Karabakh Conflict,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, November 3, 2020; Ron Synovitz, “ T echnology,
T actics, and T urkish Advice Lead Azerbaijan to Victory in Nagorno -Karabakh,” RFE/RL, November 13, 2020
(hereinafter, Synovitz, “Technology, T actics and T urkish Advice”).
45 Jack Watling, “T he Key to Armenia’s T ank Losses: T he Sensors, Not the Shooters,” RUSI Defence Systems, October
6, 2020; Michael Kofman, “ Armenia’s Military Position in Nagorno -Karabakh Grows Precarious,” Eurasianet, October
24, 2020; Robyn Dixon, “ Azerbaijan’s Drones Owned the Battlefield in Nagorno -Karabakh—and Showed the Future
of Warfare,” Washington Post, November 11, 2020.
46 Kofman and Nersisyan, “Second Nagorno-Karabakh War”; Henry Foy, “Drones and Missiles T ilt War with Armenia
in Azerbaijan’s Favor,” Financial Times, October 28, 2020.
47 Dimitri Avaliani, “Karabakh: T he Battle for Hadrut and Why It’s Important,” JAM News, October 12, 2020; Joshua
Kucera, “Azerbaijan Continues Advance Deeper into Armenian -Held T erritory,” Eurasianet, October 21, 2020; Nvard
Hovhannisyan and Naila Bagirova, “Armenia Says Karabakh Forces Quit T own as U.S. -Backed Ceasefire Appears to
Fail,” Reuters, October 27, 2020.
48 Robin Paxton and Gabrielle T etrault -Farber, “Stick or T wist? Azerbaijan Looks to Drive Home Nagorno -Karabakh
Gains,” Reuters, October 30, 2020; Dmitry Kuznets, “T he Battle for Shusha: Fighting in Nagorno -Karabakh Has
Reached a T urning Point. Here Are the Most Recent Developments in the Conflict Zone,” Meduza, November 6, 2020.
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Figure 2. Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Zone
(line of control prior to the 2020 war)

Source: CRS, using data from the U.S. Department of State, ESRI, Garmin, and ArcWorld.
After failing to capture Lachin, Azerbaijan focused on capturing Shusha. In addition to its
historical and cultural importance, Shusha is strategical y important due to its position on the
highway linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh and overlooking much of the region, including
Stepanakert. Using a combined arms approach that included special forces and light infantry,
supported by armored units and precision artil ery and drone strikes, Azerbaijani forces advanced
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in the surrounding ravines and mountains. Despite heavy Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh
resistance, Azerbaijan captured Shusha on or around November 8, 2020.49
The capture of Shusha weakened the Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh military position and
imperiled the security of the population in Nagorno-Karabakh. As of November 2, 2020,
Armenian officials indicated that 90,000 people (out of an estimated 147,000) had fled Nagorno-
Karabakh.50 As the fight for Shusha was occurring, video footage purported to show heavy
civilian vehicle traffic leaving Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia.51 By the start of December 2020,
reports indicated more than 25,000 people had returned to their homes in Nagorno-Karabakh.52 In
addition, Azerbaijani officials reported that about 40,000 Azerbaijanis living near the conflict
zone had been temporarily displaced during the war.53
Media and nongovernmental organizations reported the shel ing of population centers in
Nagorno-Karabakh (including Stepanakert) and areas of Azerbaijan outside the conflict zone
(including the cities of Ganja and Barda), resulting in at least dozens of civilian casualties.54
Armenians and observers reported incidents of civilian kil ings by Azerbaijani forces as they took
territory within Nagorno-Karabakh, and reports of the kil ing of prisoners emerged on both
sides.55 In December 2020, Azerbaijani authorities arrested four soldiers on suspicion of
“inadmissible” war crimes and said that “individuals who have committed similar violations wil
be brought to justice.”56 Based on official statements and reports, the 2020 war led to more than
6,000 combat deaths (about 3,360 Armenians and 2,820 Azerbaijanis) and more than 150 civilian

49 Ron Synovitz, “Azerbaijani Forces Close in on Nagorno-Karabakh’s ‘Unassailable’ Mountain Fortress City,”
RFE/RL, November 5, 2020; Paul Goble, “ Shusha On ce Again Key to War and Peace Between Armenia and
Azerbaijan,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, November 12, 2020; Synovitz, “T echnology, T actics and T urkish Advice.”
50 As of December 9, 2020, the Migration Service of Armenia reported a total of 90,640 displaced per sons from
Nagorno-Karabakh. United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), “ Nagorno-
Karabakh Conflict: Bachelet Warns of Possible War Crimes as Attacks Continue in Populated Areas,” press release,
November 2, 2020; International Organization for Migration, “Migration Service of Armenia Registered Arrivals of
Displaced Population, Armenia – Round 3,” December 11, 2020.
51 Joshua Kucera, “Fears of Civilian Exodus Rise as Azerbaijan Advances in Karabakh,” Eurasianet, November 8,
52 Andrew Connelly, “Nagorno-Karabakh Refugees See Little Chance of Returning Home After Peace Deal,”
November 30, 2020; Associated Press, “Azerbaijan Fully Reclaims Lands Around Nagorno -Karabakh,” December 1,
53 OHCHR, “ Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Bachelet Warns of Possible War Crimes as Attacks Continue in Populated
Areas,” press release, November 2, 2020.
54 Neil Hauer, “Nagorno-Karabakh: Sirens, Shelling, and Shelters in Stepanakert,” Al Jazeera, October 16, 2020;
Guardian, “ Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan Says 12 Civilians Killed by Shelling in Ganja,” October 17, 2020;
Amnesty International, “Armenia/Azerbaijan: First Confirmed Use of Cluster Munitions by Armenia ‘Cruel and
Reckless,’” October 29, 2020; Human Rights Watch, “Azerbaijan: Unlawful Strikes in Nagorno-Karabakh,” December
11, 2020; Human Rights Watch, “Armenia: Unlawful Rocket, Missile Strikes on Azerbaijan,” December 11, 2020.
55 Robin Fabbro, “Evidence Mounts of War Crimes in Nagorno -Karabakh,” OC Media, October 16, 2020; Olesya
Vartanyan (ICG), @Olesya_vArt, T witter, November 8, 2020, at
1325414667460751360; Amnesty International, “Armenia/Azerbaijan: Decapitation and W ar Crimes in Gruesome
Videos Must Be Urgently Investigated,” December 10, 2020.
56 Al Jazeera, “Baku to Probe Alleged War Crimes by Both Azerbaijan, Armenia,” November 25, 2020; RFE/RL,
“Azerbaijani Soldiers Arrested for Desecration, Vandalism During Nagorn o-Karabakh Conflict,” December 14, 2020.
57 Avet Demourian, “Armenia: T ens of T housands Rally to Demand PM’s Resignation,” December 5, 2020; Azernews,
“Civilian Death T oll in Armenian Attacks Reaches 100,” December 8, 2020;, “ Azerbaijani MoD: 2,823
Servicemen Martyred in Patriotic War Buried,” December 28, 2020;, “ Armenia: Bodies of 3,360
Soldiers Killed in Karabakh War Examined So Far,” January 5, 2021.
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Role of Turkey
Azerbaijan’s offensive received strong diplomatic support from Turkey, which also supplied
drones Azerbaijan used on the battlefield.58 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long
supported Azerbaijani demands that Armenian forces withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and
surrounding territories. On September 28, 2020, President Erdogan reportedly said that
Azerbaijan had to “take matters into its own hands” given the failure of international conflict
resolution efforts and that Turkey would continue to support Azerbaijan “with al its resources
and heart.”59 Erdogan said, “permanent peace ... wil only be possible if Armenia leaves the
Azerbaijani lands it has been occupying.”60
Armenia al eged Turkey helped recruit and dispatch an unknown number of Syrian mercenaries
to assist Azerbaijan’s military.61 Social media posts and interviews with family members of
fighters kil ed in the conflict appeared to support Armenia’s claim.62 Turkey, in turn, accused
Armenia of recruiting Kurdish militants for assistance but did not provide specific evidence in
support of this claim.63
On September 29, Armenian officials al eged a Turkish F-16 fighter jet departing from
Azerbaijani airspace shot down an Armenian Su-25 fighter jet in Armenian airspace. Turkey said
the al egation was “absolutely untrue,” and Azerbaijan also denied the claim.64 Open-source
satel ite imagery and reporting documented the presence of six Turkish F-16 fighters at Gabala,
inside Azerbaijan, although no reporting has concluded these planes were involved in the
Turkey’s growing influence in the region raises questions about the evolving Turkey-Russia
dynamic, which includes elements of rivalry and cooperation. This dynamic operates within a
broader setting that encompasses ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria, Russian arms sales to

58 Andrew E. Kramer, “Fighting Between Armenia and Azerbaijan Risks Drawing in Bigger Powers,” New York Times,
September 28, 2020. Also see CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti and
Clayton T homas.
59 Reuters, “T urkey’s Erdogan Says Armenia Must Withdraw from Azeri Lands,” September 28, 2020.
60 Reuters, “T urkey Cool to U.S., Russia, France Ceasefire Effort in Nagorno -Karabakh,” October 1, 2020; Daily
, “ T urkey Sides with Azerbaijan Against Armenia’s Occupation, Erdogan Says,” October 1, 2020.
61 T urkey’s military has developed significant influence among Syrian militia fighters who oppose the regime of Syrian
President Bashar al Asad. T he T urkish military reportedly recruited mercenaries to assist Azerbaijan, having reportedly
done something similar in Libya’s civil war. Kareem Fahim and Zakaria Zakaria, “ T hese Syrian Militiamen Were Foes
in T heir Civil War. Now T hey Are Battling Each Other in Libya,” Washington Post, June 25, 2020; Elizabeth T surkov,
“T he Syrian Mercenaries Fighting Foreign Wars for Russia and T urkey,” New York Review of Books, October 16,
62 Bethan McKernan, “Syrian Rebel Fighters Prepare to Deploy to Azerbaijan in Sign of T urkey’s Ambition,”
Guardian, September 28, 2020; Kareem Fahim, Isabelle Khurshudyan, and Zakaria Zakaria, “ Deaths of Syrian
Mercenaries Show How T urkey, Russia Could Get Sucked into Nagorno -Karabakh Conflict,” Washington Post,
October 14, 2020; Ron Synovitz, “Are Syrian Mercenaries Helping Azerbaijan Fight for Nagorno-Karabakh?” RFE/RL,
October 15, 2020; Ed Butler, “T he Syrian Mercenaries Used as ‘Cannon Fodder’ in Nagorno -Karabakh,” BBC News,
December 9, 2020.
63 Middle East Monitor, “T urkey: Armenia T ransports Hundreds of PKK Militants to Fight Azerbaijan,” September 30,
64 Associated Press, “ Armenia, Azerbaijan Conflict Escalates; T urkey Calls Allegation of Downing Jet ‘Absolutely
Untrue,’” September 29, 2020.
65 Joseph T revithick, “Turkey’s Forward Deployed F-16s in Azerbaijan Have Moved to a New Base,” The Drive,
October 26, 2020.
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Turkey, Turkey’s growing hard-power projection, and Turkish cooperation with Ukraine. This
dynamic could have implications for U.S. relations with both NATO al y Turkey and Russia.66
Role of Russia
Official y, Russia adopted a neutral stance on the autumn 2020 conflict prior to facilitating the
agreement of November 9, 2020. On October 7, 2020, Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry
Peskov said Russia’s security commitments to Armenia via its membership in the CSTO “do not
extend to Karabakh.”67 Russian officials cal ed for cease-fire and stabilization talks, including
through discussions with Turkish counterparts.68 On October 29, 2020, Russian President
Vladimir Putin said a “long-term settlement [lies] in finding a balance of interests that would suit
both sides.... Everyone has their own truth. There are no simple solutions, since the knot is tied in
a very complicated way.”69
On November 9, 2020, Azerbaijani forces shot down a Russian Mi-24 helicopter inside Armenia,
near Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave located west of Armenia, kil ing two and wounding one.
The helicopter reportedly was escorting a Russian military convoy from Russia’s 102nd military
base in Gyumri, Armenia. Azerbaijan quickly issued an apology and promised an investigation
into the matter.70
November 2020 Agreement
On November 9, 2020, Azerbaijani President Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, and
Russian President Putin issued a joint statement that several media reports referred to as a cease-
fire or peace agreement.71 As of January 2021, the agreement appears to have halted the war.
If implemented in full, the November 9 agreement would secure—and extend—substantial
territorial gains for Azerbaijan while ostensibly retaining security for and Armenian control over
reduced territory within Nagorno-Karabakh. One major immediate consequence of the agreement
was the deployment to the conflict zone of Russian forces to serve as a peacekeeping contingent.

66 CRS Report R41368, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti and Clayton T homas; CRS Insight
IN11557, Turkey: U.S. Sanctions Under the Countering Am erica’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) , by
Jim Zanotti and Clayton T homas.
67 Moscow Times, “Russia’s Security Guarantees for Armenia Don’t Extend to Karabakh, Putin Says,” October 7, 2020.
68 Al Jazeera, “Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes: How the World Reacted,” September 27, 2020.
69 T ASS Russian News Agency (T ASS), “‘Balance of Interests’: Putin’s Formula for Settling Nagorno -Karabakh
Conflict,” October 29, 2020.
70 Andrew E. Kramer, “Azerbaijan Apologizes for Downing Russian Helicopter, Killing T wo,” New York Times,
November 9, 2020; RFE/RL, “ Russian Military Helicopter Shot Down in Armenia Amid Karabakh Fighting,”
November 9, 2020; T ASS, “ Azerbaijan Apologizes for Shooting Down a Russian Military Helicopter in Armenia,”
November 9, 2020.
71 T he agreement is available at President of Russia, “ Statement by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the
Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the President of th e Russian Federation,” November 10, 2020. Prior to
this agreement, three other cease-fire efforts had been attempted, including one on October 25 via U.S. mediation.
Nailia Bagirova and Nvard Hovhannisyan, “U.S. Backed T ruce Crumbles as Nagorno -Karabakh Fighting Resumes,”
Reuters, October 26, 2020.
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Figure 3. Cease-Fire Agreement of November 9, 2020

Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Note: Map is unofficial. CRS is unable to verify the accuracy of indicated boundaries and areas of territorial
The November 9, 2020, agreement consists of nine points. In addition to a cease-fire and
exchange of prisoners and the dead, the points include the following:
 Return of territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan’s control
 Deployment of almost 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to the conflict zone
 Establishment of a peacekeeping center to monitor the cease-fire
 Withdrawal of Armenian forces from the region
 Maintenance of a land corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh
 Return of internal y displaced persons and refugees
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 Establishment of a land transport corridor across Armenia between the
Azerbaijani mainland and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan (located west
of Armenia)
Regarding territorial control, the agreement states the opposing military forces are to remain at
their current positions and Russian peacekeepers are to be deployed along the line of contact. In
practice, this provision has al owed Azerbaijan to retain its wartime gains both around and within
Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, the agreement required Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh forces to
withdraw from additional territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh (specifical y, the Kalbajar,
Lachin, and Agdam regions).72 The withdrawal of Armenian forces from these regions has been
accompanied by the departure of tens of thousands of ethnic Armenian residents from longtime
settlements in the southern part of Nagorno-Karabakh, as wel as from territories outside the
region that Armenians have settled in since the end of the war in the 1990s.73 Armenian civilians
reportedly destroyed homes and other structures to prevent them from fal ing under Azerbaijani
The declaration does not explicitly address the political status of Nagorno-Karabakh or its official
boundaries. Some observers contend the declaration replicates at least some of the long-standing
basic principles that for years have formed the basis of negotiations between Azerbaijan and
Armenia via the facilitation of the Minsk Group.75 Other elements of these principles were not
replicated. A fundamental aspect of the basic principles is that they are considered as a single
package, to include agreement on “the future determination of the final legal status” of Nagorno-
Karabakh and guarantees for the region’s security and self-governance; these latter points are not
elements of the November 9, 2020, agreement. In addition, the basic principles assumed an
international peacekeeping mission, not an exclusively Russian one.
Per the November 9, 2020, agreement, Russia reportedly has deployed at least 1,960 soldiers, 90
armored personnel carriers, and 380 vehicles and special equipment in a peacekeeping contingent
to the conflict zone.76 These forces are said to be from Russia’s 15th Separate Motor Rifle
Brigade, which is Russia’s designated peacekeeping unit. Russia is deploying observation posts
along the cease-fire line and in the Lachin corridor to monitor the truce, ensure residents’ safety,
and provide security for transit between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian peacekeepers
also have secured some historic Armenian churches and other cultural centers.77 The agreement
provides for a peacekeeping center in Azerbaijan (outside the conflict zone) to monitor

72 Armenia was to hand over Kelbajar by November 15, 2020; Agdam by November 20; and Lachin by December 1.
Azerbaijan agreed to extend the deadline for Armenia to withdraw from Kelbajar until November 25 in respon se to
requests from Armenia. RFE/RL, “ Azerbaijan Extends Deadline for Armenia to Withdraw from Key District Under
Karabakh T ruce,” November 15, 2020; Joshua Kucera, “After Days of Chaos, Armenia and Azerbaijan Delay T erritory
Handover,” Eurasianet, November 15, 2020; Naira Nalbandian, “Armenian T roop Withdrawals Completed,” RFE/RL,
December 1, 2020.
73 Adrian Hartrick, “Karabakh’s Latest Cycle of Displacement,” Eurasianet, November 14, 2020.
74 Reuters, “Armenians Set Fire to Homes Before Handing Village over to Azerbaijan,” November 14, 2020; Andy
Heil, “For Displaced Azerbaijanis, T ruce Reawakens ‘Dream’ of Returning Home,” RFE/RL, November 16, 2020.
75 Matthew Bryza, “Azerbaijan-Armenia Peace Deal Could Be the Diplomatic Breakthrough the Region Needs,”
Atlantic Council, November 11, 2020.
76 Denis Dmitriev, “Here’s What Russia Had Pledged (and Risked) with Peacekeepers in Nagorno -Karabakh,” Meduza,
November 10, 2020; T ASS, “Russian Peacekeepers Outposts, Headquarters Deployed to Karabakh —Defense
Ministry,” November 15, 2020; Raja Abdulrahim and Ann M. Simmons, “Russia’s Role in Enforcing Peace in
Nagorno-Karabakh Stirs Hopes, Bitterness,” Wall Street Journal, November 28, 2020.
77 Daria Litvinova, “Russian Peacekeepers Deploy to Secure Nagorno -Karabakh T ruce,” Associated Press, November
10, 2020; T homas de Waal, “Now Comes a Karabakh War over Cultural Heritage,” Eurasianet, November 16, 2020.
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implementation of the cease-fire; reports indicate the center is to be jointly staffed by Russian and
Turkish forces.78 Additional y, Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Border Troops are to
guarantee free movement between Azerbaijan and its exclave of Nakhichevan, located west of
Armenia, although it is not known when this provision is to come into effect.79
Since the cease-fire, periodic clashes between Azerbaijani and Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh
forces have been reported. These clashes have resulted in some casualties and the detention of
military personnel. The sides also have carried out prisoner exchanges.80
Impact of the War in Armenia and Azerbaijan
The cease-fire agreement led to political turmoil in Armenia. In announcing the agreement,
Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan said it was “unspeakably painful for me personal y and for
our people” but the decision was based on “an in-depth analysis of the military situation and the
assessment of the people who know the situation best.” Pashinyan said that although “this is not a
victory,... this should become the start of the era of our national unification and rebirth.”81 The
leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Arayik Harutyunyan, confirmed his consent to the
After the November 9, 2020, agreement was announced, protestors in Armenia attacked
government buildings and temporarily occupied the Armenian parliament. Parliamentary
Chairman Ararat Mirzoyan reportedly was pulled from his car and beaten, leading to his
hospitalization (two people were arrested and charged with assault).83 Protestors and opposition
politicians cal ed for Pashinyan’s resignation.
On November 14, 2020, the former head of Armenia’s National Security Service (currently an
opposition politician) was arrested “on suspicion of usurping power and preparing the
assassination” of Pashinyan.84 Armenia’s ministers of foreign affairs, defense, and economy
resigned. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian urged the government to cal snap elections
(Armenia’s presidency is mainly a ceremonial position).85 Protests cal ing for Pashinyan’s
resignation and new elections continued through December 2020.
In Azerbaijan, support for the military operation and the Azerbaijani government has been high,
with the outcome sparking mass celebrations. Upon signing the November 9, 2020, agreement,
Azerbaijani President Aliyev cal ed it “our glorious victory” and said, “our people’s 30-year

78 Suzan Fraser, “T urkish Parliament Approves Peacekeepers for Azerbaijan,” Associated Press, November 17, 2020.
79 Pavel Felgenhauer, “T he Karabakh War Ends as Russian T roops Move In,” Eurasia Daily Monitor, November 12,
2020; bne IntelliNews, “Azerbaijan’s Aliyev Calls on Armenia, Russia, T urkey and Iran to Assist in Creating
Nakhchivan Land Corridor,” December 2, 2020.
80 RFE/RL, “Azerbaijan, Armenia Swap Prisoners as Part of Nagorno-Karabakh T ruce Deal,” December 14, 2020;
RFE/RL, “ Dozens of Armenian Soldiers ‘Captured’ in Nagorno-Karabakh Raid,” December 16, 2020.
81 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, “Military Aggression of Azerbaijan: Chronicle of
Developments 10.11.2020,” November 10, 2020, at
82 Gohar Hakobyan, “Arayik Harutyunyan: ‘If Military Operations Continued, We Would Have Lost All of Artsakh,’”
Aravot, November 10, 2020.
83 Ani Meljumyan and Joshua Kucera, “Armenian Government Under Attack Following War Defeat,” Eurasianet,
November 10, 2020.
84 RFE/RL, “Armenian Opposition Leader Detained, Accused of Plotting to Kill PM Pashinian,” November 14, 2020.
85 RFE/RL, “Armenian President Calls for Snap Elections as Government Faces Mounting Pressure over Karabakh
Deal,” November 17, 2020.
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longing wil come to an end.”86 After the war, some debate in Azerbaijan focused on the question
of whether Azerbaijan’s armed forces prematurely ceased their offensive.87
Families displaced from territories in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s might have the
possibility to return home. A mass return of Azerbaijanis likely would require major investments.
Towns and settlements in the conflict zone are in various states of destruction or disrepair, and
mines and unexploded ordnance pose risks to return.88
U.S. Responses
The United States, as a Minsk Group co-chair, has sought to facilitate a resolution to the
Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict that achieves a negotiated settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh’s
political status, peaceably restores Azerbaijani control over territories surrounding Nagorno-
Karabakh, and provides security for residents of and returnees to the conflict zone.
The Trump Administration made several efforts to halt the fighting in autumn 2020 and to restart
negotiations. On September 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of State expressed “alarm” at “reports
of large scale military action along the Line of Contact” and “condemn[ed] in the strongest terms
this escalation of violence.”89 The statement noted that Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun
held discussions with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan and urged an immediate
cessation of hostilities. The statement also noted that “participation in the escalating violence by
external parties would be deeply unhelpful and only exacerbate regional tensions.” In a
September 27 press briefing, President Trump responded to a question on the conflict. He noted
that “we have a lot of good relationships in that area. We’l see if we can stop it.”90
On October 1, President Trump joined the presidents of Russia and France to issue a trilateral
statement “condemn[ing] in the strongest terms the recent escalation of violence along the Line of
Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.”91 The statement cal ed for “an immediate
cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces” and “on the leaders of Armenia and
Azerbaijan to commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations, in good faith and
without preconditions.”
On October 23, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo met in Washington, DC, with the foreign
ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in separate meetings. The Department of State said
Secretary Pompeo “emphasized the need to end the violence and protect civilians” and “stressed

86 President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, “Ilham Aliyev Addressed the Nation,” November 10, 2020, at
87 Cavid Aga, @cavidaga, T witter, November 16, 2020, at
88 Anton T roianovski and Carlotta Gall, “After War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Peace Sees Winners and Losers
Swap Places,” New York Times, November 16, 2020; Andy Heil, “For Displaced Azerbaijanis, T ruce Reawakens
‘Dream’ of Returning Home,” RFE/RL, November 16, 2020; ICG, Improving Prospects for Peace After the Nagorno-
Karabakh War
, December 22, 2020.
89 U.S. Department of Stat e, “Escalation of Violence Between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” September 27, 2020.
90 White House, “Remarks by President T rump in Press Briefing,” September 27, 2020.
91 On October 5, 2020, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and the Russian and French ministers of foreign affairs
issued another trilateral statement condemning the escalation of violence and calling attacks targeting civilian centers
“an unacceptable threat to the stability of the region.” See “Statement of the Presidents of the Russian Federation, the
United States of America and the French Republic on Nagorno -Karabakh,” October 1, 2020, available at; U.S. Department of State, “ Joint Statement Calling for a Ceasefire in Nagorno-
Karabakh,” October 5, 2020.
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the importance of the sides entering substantive negotiations.”92 The governments of the United
States, Armenia, and Azerbaijan then issued a joint statement indicating that the United States
“facilitated intensive negotiations ... to move Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to a peaceful
resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”93 President Trump congratulated the Armenian and
Azerbaijani leaders for agreeing to a U.S-brokered cease-fire, stating that “many lives wil be
saved” (the cease-fire, like two previous ones, did not hold).94
On October 30, 2020, the Minsk Group co-chairs met with the foreign ministers of Armenia and
Azerbaijan in Geneva, Switzerland, where they agreed to a number of measures. Both sides
agreed, for example, not to deliberately target civilian populations, to facilitate the recovery and
exchange of remains, and to prepare for an exchange of prisoners of war.95
In response to the November 9, 2020, agreement, Secretary Pompeo issued a statement that “the
United States welcomes the cessation of active hostilities” and that “ending the recent fighting is
only the first step toward achieving a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict.” The statement indicated the United States would provide $5 mil ion in humanitarian
assistance “to assist people affected by the recent fighting.”96 U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE
James Gilmore said, “we are deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation on the ground ...
[and] urge the sides to avoid actions that could result in the resumption of violence ... [and to]
take advantage of the cessation of violence to build a lasting peace.”97
Congressional Response
Several Members of the 116th Congress issued statements in response to the autumn 2020
outbreak of armed conflict. On September 29, 2020, for example, the then-chairman of the House
Committee on Foreign Affairs issued a statement cal ing “on leaders in Azerbaijan and Armenia
to take concrete steps to de-escalate the situation, end hostilities, and refrain from seizing territory
across the line of contact.” He also stated that “the influence of external actors such as Turkey
recklessly meddling in the conflict is troubling. The international community must remain
committed to the peace process.”98
On October 1, 2020, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and three other
Senators issued a statement cal ing on both countries to “immediately cease the violence and
return to the [OSCE] Minsk Group to negotiate a peaceful end to this decades-long
disagreement.” The statement also cal ed on “regional powers” to “end their aggressive escalatory
actions and channel their efforts into bringing al parties to the negotiating table.”99

92 U.S. Department of State, “ Secretary Pompeo’s Meetings with Armenian Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan and
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Bayramov,” October 23, 2020.
93 U.S. Department of State, “U.S.-Armenia-Azerbaijan Joint Statement,” October 25, 2020.
94 Donald J. T rump, @realDonaldT rump, T witter, October 25, 2020.
95 OSCE, “Press Statement by the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group,” October 30, 2020.
96 U.S. Department of State, “ The United States Welcomes Cessation of Hostilities Between Armenia and Azerbaijan
and Announces New Assistance to Respond to the Nagorno -Karabakh Humanitarian Emergency,” November 17, 2020.
97 U.S. Mission to the OSCE, “Statement on the Conflict in and Around Nagorno Karabakh,” November 12, 2020.
98 House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “Engel Statement on Eruption of Fighting in Nagorno -Karabakh,” September
29, 2020.
99 Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, “Risch, Rubio, Portman, Johnson: Armenia and Azerbaijan Must Immediately
Cease Violence,” October 1, 2020.
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Also on October 1, 2020, a group of 49 Members of the House wrote to Secretary of State
Pompeo “to express our deep concern with Azerbaijan’s renewed aggression against Artsakh
(Nagorno Karabakh) and the rising possibility of a wider conflict with Armenia.” The letter asked
the Administration to “use al available diplomatic tools to reduce tensions, end the fighting, and
restrain Azerbaijan from further offensive actions.”100
In October 2020, during the 116th Congress, three related resolutions were introduced in the
House and one related resolution was introduced in the Senate.
 H.Res. 1165, introduced October 1, 2020 (with 112 cosponsors), would have
“condemn[ed] Azerbaijan’s military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh and
denounce[d] Turkish interference in the conflict.”
 H.Res. 1196, introduced October 16, 2020 (with two cosponsors), would have
“cal [ed] for an end to escalating violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, for
each side to return to the peace process, and for external parties to cease their
support for an interference in the conflict.”
 H.Res. 1203, introduced October 23, 2020 (with 42 cosponsors), would have
“support[ed] the Republic of Artsakh at al levels of civil society and government
and recognize[d] the people of Artsakh’s inalienable right to self-determination.”
 S.Res. 754, introduced October 22, 2020 (with 13 co-sponsors), would have
“request[ed] information on the Government of Azerbaijan’s human rights
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260, Division W, Title VI, §615), requires
the Director of National Intel igence to submit to the congressional intel igence committees an
assessment regarding tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, “including with respect to the
status of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.”
Several Members of Congress previously expressed support for a set of three measures to
strengthen the cease-fire regime in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone known as the Royce-
Engel proposals. In 2015, then-Chairman Ed Royce and then-Ranking Member Eliot Engel of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee proposed an agreement to (1) refrain from deploying snipers
along the line of contact, (2) al ow the OSCE to instal advanced monitoring equipment, and (3)
deploy additional OSCE observers along the line of contact.101
Related U.S. Assistance
Enacted in 1992, Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act (P.L. 102-511) prohibited most
bilateral assistance to Azerbaijan unless the President determines Azerbaijan has made
“demonstrable steps to cease al blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and
Nagorno-Karabakh.” The United States also withheld military assistance to Armenia, reflecting a
policy of “evenhandedness” toward the two countries.102

100 Congressman Adam Schiff, “ Schiff, Pallone, Speier and 46 Bipartisan Members Urge Secretary of State to Help
Reduce T ensions Between Armenia and Azerbaijan ,” press release, October 1, 2020.
101 Armenian Assembly of America, “85 Members of Congress Sign Royce-Engel Letter to Ambassador Warlick,”
press release, October 28, 2015.
102 U.S. Department of State, “U.S. Assistance to Armenia—Fiscal Year 2002,” June 6, 2002, at https://2001-
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In October 2001, Congress enacted an annual y renewable presidential waiver (in P.L. 107-115;
22 U.S.C. 5812 note) that enabled the United States to begin providing military assistance to
Azerbaijan and, hence, to Armenia. Since then, the United States has adhered to a principle of
parity with regard to Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Azerbaijan and Armenia.103
The United States appears to have last provided FMF to Armenia and Azerbaijan in FY2017 ($1
mil ion each that year).
The principle of parity has not applied to al forms of military assistance. In FY2018 and FY2019,
the United States provided at least $26.9 mil ion in obligated assistance to Azerbaijan under the
Department of Defense’s “Section 333” (global train-and-equip) authority to help build
Azerbaijan’s capacity for southern border (i.e., Iran) and Caspian Sea maritime security
From FY1998 to FY2019, the United States provided about $50 mil ion in humanitarian
assistance for the Nagorno-Karabakh region through implementing partners “in support of
demining, shelter, water, microfinance, and health interventions.”105 The United States also has
supported conflict-related confidence-building activities in Armenia and Azerbaijan.
In 2017, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reported that in recent years,
humanitarian assistance for Nagorno-Karabakh had focused “on the life-saving clearance of
minefields and contaminated battle areas, which continue to pose humanitarian risks and impede
the safe and effective use of this land.”106 In total, the United States has provided more than $17
mil ion in assistance for demining in Nagorno-Karabakh.107 The United States has not provided
assistance for demining in regions of Azerbaijan located outside of Nagorno-Karabakh.
In 2019, HALO Trust, a nongovernmental organization, began a new survey that uncovered
additional minefields within Nagorno-Karabakh.108 In an April 2019 budget hearing, then-USAID
Administrator Mark Green responded affirmatively to the question of whether USAID was
“committed to completing the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnances within the
traditional boundaries” of Nagorno-Karabakh.109 Subsequently, some Members of Congress and
media reports indicated the State Department and USAID did not intend to request new funding
for demining of newly surveyed minefields.110 It remains to be seen how the autumn 2020

103 In 2011, Congress recommended that parity also apply to International Military Education and T raining programs.
U.S. Congress, Conference Committee, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies
Appropriations Act, 2012
, conference report to accompany H.R. 2055, 112th Cong., 1st sess., H.Rept. 112-331
(Washington, DC: GPO, 2011), p. 1346.
104 In past years, the Department of Defense also has used cooperative threat reduction and train -and-equip funds to
support Azerbaijan’s capacity to conduct maritime nonproliferation and counterterrorism operations. Data available via
the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Foreign Aid Explorer, at
105 USAID, “Fact Sheet: Humanitarian Assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh,” October 2017; CRS communication with
106 USAID, “Fact Sheet: Humanitarian Assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh,” October 2017.
107 USAID, “Fact Sheet: Humanitarian Assistance to Nagorno-Karabakh,” October 2017; CRS communication with
108 Joshua Kucera, “U.S. Ends Funding for Karabakh Demining,” Eurasianet, March 19, 2020.
109 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, FY2020 Foreign Assistance Budget and Policy Priorities,
hearings, 116th Congress, 1st sess., April 9, 2019, p. 59.
110 U.S. Congressman T . J. Cox, “ Reps. T . J. Cox and Brad Sherman Lead Letter to USAID Urging Administrator
Green to Continue Funding for Demining Programs in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) ,” press release, August 6, 2019;
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conflict, which has led to new risks of unexploded ordnance, could affect consideration of related
U.S. assistance.
Congressional Action on Assistance
In FY2020, consistent with previous statements, the Senate Appropriations Committee stated that
the committee “remains concerned with the protracted conflict between Armenia and
Azerbaijan.”111 The committee directed the State Department and USAID to “consult with the
Committee on programs that can further create conditions for resolution of the conflict and help
address the humanitarian needs for al victims of the conflict.” The conference report to
accompany the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 116-92) stated, “the conferees
underscore the importance of preventing further violence and making progress toward a peaceful
resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”112
Before the war, many Members of Congress expressed support for new demining and other
humanitarian assistance for Nagorno-Karabakh, as wel as for a suspension of U.S. military aid to
Azerbaijan.113 The House-passed version of the FY2021 State and Foreign Operations
appropriations bil (H.R. 7608) included an offset amendment that would increase the Economic
Support Fund by $1.4 mil ion and reduce educational and cultural exchange programs by the
same amount. This amendment was reported by the Rules Committee as intended “to fund
USAID’s demining program in Nagorno-Karabakh.”114 The amendment was not incorporated in
the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260).
The autumn 2020 war has raised awareness of the danger of mines and unexploded ordnance in
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and of other humanitarian chal enges. Some Members have
cal ed for the provision of new assistance related to the conflict and for a review of U.S. military
aid to Azerbaijan and the Section 907 waiver.
Local and regional consequences of the autumn 2020 war continue to unfold. Many Armenians
are newly displaced, including many who are permitted to return but unsure if they can safely do
so. In Azerbaijan, the government is contemplating the return of hundreds of thousands of
Azerbaijanis displaced from the conflict zone in the 1990s. The war did not resolve the political
status of Nagorno-Karabakh, however, and it upended the long-standing OSCE Minsk Group
conflict resolution framework. The war has led to political turmoil in Armenia and has

Joshua Kucera, “U.S. Ends Funding for Karabakh Demining,” Eurasianet, March 19, 2020.
111 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related
Program s Appropriations Bill, 2020
, report to accompany S. 2583, 116th Cong., 1st Sess., S.Rept. 116-126
(Washington, DC: GPO, 2019), p. 128.
112 U.S. Congress, Conference Committee, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, conference report
to accompany S. 1790, 116th Cong., 1st sess., H.Rept. 116-333 (Washington, DC: GPO, 2019), p. 1418.
113 See, for example, U.S. Congressman T . J. Cox, “ Reps. T . J. Cox and Brad Sherman Lead Letter to USAID Urging
Administrator Green to Continue Funding for Demining Programs in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) ,” press release,
August 6, 2019; Asbarez, “ 75 Lawmakers Call on Congress to Save Artsakh Aid,” March 11, 2020; and U.S Senator
Bob Menendez, “Menendez Leads Colleagues in Calling for Support of Humanitarian Projects in Nagorno-Karabakh,”
press release, April 27, 2020.
114 U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Rules, Summary of Amendment 49 (version 2), Division A, in “H.R.
7608 - State, Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Rural Development, Interior, Environment, Military Construction, and
Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2021,” at
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strengthened the government of Azerbaijan. It also may increase the influence of regional powers
Russia and Turkey.
In the 117th Congress, Members of Congress may address issues related to the aftermath of the
autumn 2020 war. In seeking to influence or shape U.S. policy toward Azerbaijan and Armenia,
Members of Congress may consider the following questions:
 What are the prospects for renewed fighting? Wil Azerbaijan, Armenia, and local
populations respect the cease-fire agreement and accept the sustained presence of
Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone?
 What are the prospects for the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons to
al areas of the conflict zone?
 What are the prospects for Minsk Group or other international mediation efforts
to resolve outstanding issues, including the political status of Nagorno-
Karabakh? What role should the United States play in these efforts?
 Should the United States provide new targeted aid to assist victims of the autumn
2020 war and efforts to remove mines and unexploded ordnance? Should
Congress reconsider the types and amounts of assistance the U.S. government
provides to Armenia and Azerbaijan? Should Congress consider how the war
might affect the Section 907 prohibition on aid to Azerbaijan and the waiver that
enables assistance?
 How wil Russia’s new military presence in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone
affect Russia’s regional power and influence?
 How wil the war and its aftermath impact Turkey’s regional power and
influence, including with regard to its relationship with Azerbaijan as a key
weapons supplier (alongside Israel) and its interactions with Russia? Under what
circumstances might Turkey renew efforts to normalize relations with Armenia,
given that Armenian/Nagorno-Karabakh forces have withdrawn from much of
the conflict zone? How would Armenia respond to such efforts?
 With Azerbaijan now in control of its full border with Iran, how wil Azerbaijan’s
relations with Iran and Iran’s minority Azerbaijani population develop?

Author Information

Cory Welt
Andrew S. Bowen
Specialist in Russian and European Affairs
Analyst in Russian and European Affairs

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