1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Nagorno-Karabakh: Azerbaijan demands enclave's surrender

Published September 19, 2023last updated September 20, 2023

Azerbaijan launched an "anti-terrorist" operation in the Armenia-backed breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan said a truce and talks were contingent on the enclave's unconditional surrender.

This grab taken from a UGC footage provided to AFP by Marut Vanyan on September 19, 2023 shows smoke rising from artillery strikes on a hilltop outside Stepanakert, the capital of the Armenian-populated separatist region within Azerbaijani borders.
First images seeming to show smoke caused by artillery fire started emerging soon after Azerbaijan said it had launched a military operation to 'disarm and secure the withdrawal of' Armenian forcesImage: Marut Vanyan/UGC/AFP
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Azerbaijan announces 'anti-terrorist' operation in Nagorno-Karabakh after blaming 6 deaths on Armenian separatists
  • Baku says willing to halt operations, but only in exchange for full surrender and dissolution of regional 'Artsakh' government
  • Regional power broker Russia urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to end 'bloodshed' there
  • Azerbaijan says its operation aims to drive out Armenian forces, while Armenia says none are present in the region
Skip next section Russia calls for stop to bloodshed in Nagorno-Karabakh
September 20, 2023

Russia calls for stop to bloodshed in Nagorno-Karabakh

Russia's Foreign Ministry has issued a statement urging parties to "stop the bloodshed" in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"In connection with the sharp escalation of the armed confrontation in Nagorno-Karabakh, we urge the conflicting parties to immediately stop the bloodshed, stop hostilities and eliminate civilian casualties," the ministry said in a statement posted to Telegram.

Russian peacekeeping forces were deployed to the region under the 2020 ceasefire agreement to keep fresh violence from breaking out in the region.

The fighting comes at a time when tensions between Armenia and its longtime ally Russia remain high.

The tensions stem from Armenia complaining about Russian forces not doing enough to keep the road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia open. In turn, Armenia angered Russia by holding military exercises with the US this month.

Skip next section US calls for de-escalation of conflict
September 20, 2023

US calls for de-escalation of conflict

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he spoke with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and urged him to "immediately cease military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh."

"It is crucial for Azerbaijan to deescalate the situation to promote a peaceful resolution of the conflict," Blinken wrote on X, the media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Skip next section Nagorno-Karabakh authorities say 25 killed in fighting
September 19, 2023

Nagorno-Karabakh authorities say 25 killed in fighting

The local administration in Nagorno-Karabakh, which calls itself the Republic of Artsakh, reported 25 fatalities in the fighting late on Tuesday. 

The regional administration's rights ombudsman, Gegham Stepanyan, said two civilians were among the dead.

He said the figures had come from a local morgue in the largest city in Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert.

Stepanyan said that 138 people, 29 of them civlians, had sustained injuries and that six villages had been evacuated in response to Azerbaijani shelling. 

The spearatist government also said the international community shared blame for the latest fighting. 

"By ignoring warnings about Azerbaijan's criminal intentions and refusing to act accordingly, all the responsible international actors faile dto prevent yet another Azerbaijani [act of] aggression against Artsakh," it said. 

Skip next section Protests, clashes in Armenian capital Yerevan
September 19, 2023

Protests, clashes in Armenian capital Yerevan

People gather outside the Armenian Government Building. On 19 September 2023, Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry announced that Azerbaijan is beginning to take local "counter-terrorist measures" in Nagorno-Karabakh to restore constitutional order.
Crowds gathered near the seat of government in Yerevan to protestImage: Alexander Patrin/dpa/TASS/picture alliance

Soon after news of Azerbaijan's military intervention in Nagorno-Karabakh spread, protesters began to gather in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. 

TV images captured some of them clashing with police and trying to break a cordon to reach government buildings. Public dissatisfaction with the government's handling of the conflict, after Armenia lost ground in the war of 2020, has been fairly commonplace in recent years. Opposition parties also accuse the government of being weak on Nagorno-Karabakh.

The protesters called for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign, while Pashinyan spoke of an attempted "coup" against him. 

Later on Tuesday evening, Armenia's security council warned of the potential for large-scale unrest and said it would start taking countermeasures. 

"There is currently a real danger of mass turmoil in the Republic of Armenia. The NSC [National Security Council] will take effective measures to maintain constitutional order in the coutry," it said in a statement.

Protesters gather near the government building, after Azerbaijan launched a military operation in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in Yerevan, Armenia, September 19, 2023.
Armenia's security council said it would take 'effective measures' to ensure order amid a 'real danger of mass turmoil'Image: Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure/REUTERS
Skip next section Turkey's Erdogan at UN: 'Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory'
September 19, 2023

Turkey's Erdogan at UN: 'Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told those gathered at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday that Azerbaijan had every right to undertake "steps to preserve its territorial integrity."

"Nagorno-Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory," Erdogan said, telling the UN that any other status for the territory "will never be accepted." 

Earlier in the day, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said: "As a result of the legitimate and justified concerns it has repeatedly expressed regarding the situation on the ground in the nearly three years since the end of the Second Karabakh War, Azerbaijan has had to take the measures it deems necessary on its own sovereign territory."

Turkey, a long-time ally of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan, said Nagorno-Karabakh — an ethnic-Armenian Christian enclave — had brought the attack upon itself through "longstanding armed attacks and provocations" on Azerbaijani forces in the region. 

Still, Turkish diplomats urged all parties to return to peace talks. 

"We believe that ensuring the continuation of the comprehensive negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia... is the only way to establish peace, security, prosperity and permanent stability in the region," read a Turkish statement.

During the 2020 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Ankara supplied Azerbaijan with Turkish combat drones and other military equipment that helped Baku take back large tracts of land lost during armed conflict with separatists back in the 1990s.

Skip next section Russian peacekeepers evacuating civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh
September 19, 2023

Russian peacekeepers evacuating civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh

Russia's Defense Ministry on Tuesday said its peacekeeping forces had begun evacuating civilians from the breakaway ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

"During the day, 469 people, including 185 children, were evacuated to the location of the Russian peacekeeping contingent," according to a Defense Ministry statement. The statement also said troops provided medical assistance to several wounded civilians, including children. 

The 2,000-member Russian peacekeeping corps was deployed to the region by Moscow to monitor a 2020 ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, after a short conflict marked by considerable gains for Baku.

The separatist authorities in the region also said on Tuesday that six villages had been evacuated.

Skip next section Azerbaijan demands Nagorno-Karabakh forces 'disarm and dissolve'
September 19, 2023

Azerbaijan demands Nagorno-Karabakh forces 'disarm and dissolve'

In official statements, authorities in Azerbaijan said they were willing to end operations and initiate talks — but only if separatists laid down their arms.

The government in Baku also demanded the complete dissolution of the breakaway region's de facto administration.

"Nevertheless, for the antiterror measures to stop, the illegal Armenian military formations must raise the white flag, all the weapons must be handed over, and the illegal regime must be dissolved," read a statement. "Otherwise, the antiterror measures will be continued until the end."

Azerbaijan also claimed it would protect the ethnic-Armenian residents of Nagorno-Karabakh after assaulting the breakaway region and demanding separatist forces withdraw.

"The rights and security of civilians of Armenian descent in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan will be provided under the Constitution and international obligations of Azerbaijan," Presidential Foreign Policy Advisor Hikmet Hajiyev wrote on social media, also saying that Armenian forces must "dissolve and disarm!"

Skip next section Germany's Baerbock demands stop to Azerbaijan attack
September 19, 2023

Germany's Baerbock demands stop to Azerbaijan attack

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock accused Azerbaijan of going back on its word by launching military action in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, "Baku's promise to refrain from military action was broken." 

Speaking from the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Baerbock urged, "Azerbaijan must immediately stop shelling and return to the negotiating table."

"The crucial thing is to protect the civilian population in Nagorno-Karabakh," the diplomat said. "This is also the task of Russian soldiers stationed there."

Russian troops stationed in the region were deployed to monitor the ceasefire Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to in 2020, in the wake of a six-day war. Azerbaijan's ally Turkey was also monitoring the fragile peace.

Baerbock said Berlin supported peace talks as the only path forward, claiming, "In view of today's escalation, these are more urgent than ever."

Skip next section Nagorno-Karabakh separatists suggest cease-fire
September 19, 2023

Nagorno-Karabakh separatists suggest cease-fire

The separatists leadership of the ethnic Armenian-populated region of Nagorno Karabakh on Tuesday suggested a cease-fire.

The authority's press office said in a statement it was proposing talks with Baku, following Azerbaijan's so-called "anti-terrorist" operations in the breakaway region, announced just a few hours earlier. 

Skip next section France calls for UN Security Council meeting
September 19, 2023

France calls for UN Security Council meeting

France has urged the United Nations Security Council to immediately convene following Baku's operations.

The French Foreign Ministry said in a statement that no pretext could justify the military operation Azerbaijan launched in Nagorno-Karabakh.

France said the outbreak of fighting "threatens thousands of civilians already affected by a months-long illegal blockade and which runs against efforts by the international community to reach a negotiated settlement."

Paris said it was working with its partners to prepare a "strong response" to what Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called an "illegal, unjustifiable and unacceptable" operation.

"I would like to emphasize that we hold Azerbaijan responsible for the fate of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh," she said.

Skip next section Separatists say Azerbaijan attacks kill 2 civilians
September 19, 2023

Separatists say Azerbaijan attacks kill 2 civilians

Five people were killed and 80 injured in attacks by the Azerbaijani military following what it called "anti-terrorist" operations in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, a separatist official in the region said. Fifteen of the injured were civilians.

Gegham Stepanyan, the separatist human rights ombudsman in the ethnic Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani enclave, said that eight of those wounded were children.

Skip next section Armenia says Azerbaijan launched 'ground operation'
September 19, 2023

Armenia says Azerbaijan launched 'ground operation'

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of launching a "ground operation" in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, yet Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that his army was not involved in the fighting.

"Azerbaijan has begun a ground operation aimed at ethnic cleaning of Karabakh Armenians," Pashinyan said in a TV address. 

He added that Armenia does not have an army in the region.

"For the moment, the situation is stable along Armenia's entire border [with Azerbaijan]."

Skip next section Russia says was given 'minutes' notice
September 19, 2023

Russia says was given 'minutes' notice

Russia said on Tuesday it was only given notice of Azerbaijan's operation "minutes" before its launch, denying it was told in advance.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in statements that media reports suggesting Azerbaijan warned the Russian peacekeepers stationed in the region in advance "does not correspond to reality."

"The information was communicated to the Russian contingent a few minutes before the outbreak of hostilities," Zakharova said.

Skip next section Armenian separatists say Baku attempting to advance into region
September 19, 2023

Armenian separatists say Baku attempting to advance into region

Armenian separatists in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region have said Azerbaijani forces were trying to advance into the region.

"The Azerbaijani Armed Forces are trying to advance into Artsakh," it said, using an Armenian name for the area. "The Defense Forces continue to resist Azerbaijan's offensive along the entire line of contact." 

Skip next section EU calls on Azerbaijan to halt military actions
September 19, 2023

EU calls on Azerbaijan to halt military actions

The European Union has called on Azerbaijan to "immediately" halt its military actions in Nagorno-Karabakh, after Baku said it launched "anti-terrorist" operations.

"Devastating news coming from former Nagorno-Karabakh oblast today," European Council President Charles Michel said on social media.

He called for allowing a "genuine dialogue between Baku and Karabakh Armenians."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also said the bloc "condemns the military escalation" and "deplores the loss of lives."

"This military escalation should not be used as a pretext to force the exodus of the local population," Borrell said. "Violence needs to stop in order to provide a conducive environment for peace and normalization talks."

Show more posts