Losing control in the Caucasus

Politico reports: Nagorno-Karabakh, the former Soviet Union’s oldest and most dangerous conflict, is waking up again. The 1994 ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan is under severe strain. Where there was occasional sniper fire two years ago, mortars are now being fired. Rockets are raining down on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and the ceasefire line east of Karabakh itself. There have been around a dozen casualties in the last week.

It is still premature to talk about a return to the kind of full-scale war that raged here for three years in the 1990s. But the leaders in both Baku and Yerevan are digging themselves into warlike positions that they will find hard to give up.

This is not about the “hand of Russia” — although Russia’s behavior is not helping. The danger of the Caucasus is that no one is fully in charge and that Karabakh is becoming another link in a chain of disorder stretching from Ukraine to Syria, in which Russia meddles but is not fully in charge. [Continue reading…]

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