On Wednesday, June 21, the United States Department of State expressed concern in a press statement regarding the recent uptick in violence in Nagorno-Karabakh; Armenian-backed separatists announced on Friday, June 16, that three of their soldiers had been killed by Azeri forces at the line of contact. The self-declared defense ministry of Nagorno-Karabakh claimed Azeri forces had violated the ceasefire agreement while Azeri authorities declined to comment. Since January, there has been an increasing number of incidents involving artillery and anti-tank weapons and in May self-guided rockets and missiles were reportedly used along the line of contact. These recent clashes have increased fears of escalation into a wider, more violent conflict.
Despite the bilateral ceasefire, isolated clashes are likely to continue in the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact in the coming days and weeks.
Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia have a long-standing dispute over the possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, home to some 150,000 inhabitants (mostly ethnic Armenians) and located in the west of Azerbaijan. This issue has fueled tensions between the two countries since 1988; some 30,000 people were killed in fighting from 1990 to 1994. The two countries declared another ceasefire in April 2016 after the region experienced four days of violent clashes that left hundreds dead.
Tensions between the two countries are very high; foreigners are not allowed access to the region.
Western governments generally advise their citizens against all travel to Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas.