Armenia and Azerbaijan have never delimited and demarked their common border after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Thus it is not surprising that in some parts the border is unclear or in dispute. On such case, which currently leads to tensions between the two, is Lake Sev Lich region. Armenia accuses Azerbaijan of having illegally advance into Armenian territory and encroaching its sovereignity:
Today Azerbaijan’s armed forces crossed the state border of the Republic of Armenia and advanced as far as 3.5 kilometers in that section. In fact, they are trying to surround and siege the Lake.
It’s unclear where the Azerbaijani troops are exactly at this point but if one wants to know what the maps say, lets first look at Google:
We see that most of the lake(s) are on Armenian territory and some of the Northern part is in Azerbaijan. Of course, Google maps are nice, but hardly authoritative on what the borders are. So lets look at another source. One would think that old Soviet Maps would give us a clue what the borders were between the Armenian and Azerbaijanian SSR, and indeed we can find such maps online. Here’s the relevant one from the Russian General Staff (1975 updated 1985):
From what I am hearing, Azerbaijan seems to want to claim the whole area of the Lake, with which the Armenian side is obviously in disagreement.
We’ll see how this develops. Russia has offered to help in border delimitation and demarcation if both sides request it, but I am currently unaware whether both sides have done so or not. In any case, this will go on for a while and from the rhetorics from Armenia, this might turn a hot conflict at any moment.
The MoD of Russia has published an new map of their area of responsibility on December 13, 2020. It shows an extension in the South of Nagorno Karabakh. I present here the maps of Dec. 11 and Dec. 13, so you can see the change:
This is in response to incidents on Saturday Dec. 12 in the area there, when Azeris and Armenians exchanged fire and Azeris moved into the villages Khin Talgar and Khzaberd. The incident is said to have caused several deaths among Azeri and Armenian soldiers, also rumour has it that Turkish special forces also took part in the incident. Prime minister Pashinyan of Armenia made this claim, but it is unconfirmed. The situation is now calm again and both villages have passed under control of Russian peacekeepers.
We start with a translation of the three-party agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia:
Statement by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and President of the Russian Federation 10 November 202011: 45 We, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan I. G. Aliyev, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia N. V. Pashinyan and the President of the Russian Federation V. V. Putin, have declared the following:
1. A complete ceasefire and all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are announced from 00:00 hours Moscow time on November 10, 2020. The Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia, hereinafter referred to as the Parties, stop at their positions.
2. Aghdam region is returned to the Republic of Azerbaijan until November 20, 2020.
3. Along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachin corridor, a peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is deployed in the amount of 1,960 servicemen with small arms, 90 armored personnel carriers, 380 units of automobile and special equipment.
4. The peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is being deployed in parallel with the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces. The duration of the stay of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation is 5 years with automatic extension for the next 5-year periods, if none of the Parties declares 6 months before the expiration of the period of intention to terminate the application of this provision.
5. In order to increase the effectiveness of control over the implementation of the agreements by the Parties to the conflict, a peacekeeping center is being deployed to control the ceasefire.
6. The Republic of Armenia will return the Kelbajar region to the Republic of Azerbaijan by November 15, 2020, and the Lachin region by December 1, 2020. The Lachin corridor (5 km wide), which will ensure the connection of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia and at the same time will not affect the city of Shusha, remains under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation.
By agreement of the Parties, in the next three years, a plan for the construction of a new route along the Lachin corridor will be determined, providing communication between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, with the subsequent redeployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent to protect this route.
The Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the safety of traffic along the Lachin corridor of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions.
7. Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent areas under the control of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
8. The exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other detained persons and bodies of the dead is carried out.
9. All economic and transport links in the region are unblocked. The Republic of Armenia guarantees the safety of transport links between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the aim of organizing the unimpeded movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions. Transport control is exercised by the bodies of the Border Service of the FSB of Russia.
By agreement of the Parties, the construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be provided. Russian original: http://kremlin.ru/acts/news/64384
To get a better feeling for what this means on the ground, let’s look at some maps. First, the current military situation on the ground according to sources from Azerbaijan (Artsakh sources are similar):
There have been published a few maps that purport to show how the situation is supposed to be resolved. The one that most closely matches the above official text is the one from Sputnik News:
According to this, the green areas are already under the control of Azerbaijan. The shaded-green areas are currently under the control of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh and will be handed over to Azerbaijan. The shaded-read areas will be under the control of Russian peacekeepers, including the Lacin corridor which connects Artsakh to Armenia and the city of Shushi.
To better understand this, it is important to understand, what was the area originally covered by the Nagorno-Karabakh Oblast, this mapped is attached at the beginning of the article (the red solid line on the Fig. 2).
As usual in such conflicts, reliable information is hard to come by and you have to rely on information that is provided by the parties to the conflict and see how much of it you can verify. While it may not all be objectively true, it still gives you a good view on how the parties see the conflict developing.
First of all, it helps to keep in mind, that there are three entities in play here: Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), Armenia on the one side and Azerbaijan on the other.
From Artsahk sources, I have the following information about civilian costs of the conflict (Russian original/English translation added by me):
From Armenian official sources, losses of Azerbaijan military forces (doesn’t need translation, numbers are obvious):
From Azerbaijan sources, a map of the current situation on the ground according to them (note that there is a difference between Nagorno-Karabakh as a province/autonomous region of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh as a Republic):