Karabakh War 2020: 44 Days & Armenian Capitulation

The Karabakh War 2020 (archive) has drawn to an end with a complete Armenian military collapse only averted by a last-minute Russian intervention.

Considering the battlefield situation, what is essentially still a return to the Madrid Principles (if on conditions much less favorable to the Armenians than would have been the case otherwise) was by far not the worst outcome.

  • The seven Azeri territories surrounding Karabakh are to progressively go back under direct Azeri jurisdiction, with the process set to be completed by December 1.
  • The territories reoccupied by the Azeri military as of the ceasefire on midnight November 10, including the city of Shusha, which figures prominently in both nations’ imaginations, will also go back under direct Azeri jurisdiction.
  • All Armenian troops are to leave Azeri territory, with 1,960 Russian peacekeepers to replace them.
  • These Russian peacekeepers will guard the Lachin corridor from Armenia proper to what remains of its Karabakh exclave, as well as man observation posts on the contact line. They will be present there for an initial period of 5 years, which can subsequently be indefinitely extended in further increments of five years unless either of the two sides vetoes it six months in advance of the deadline.
  • There will be a joint monitoring center staffed by Russians and Turks.
  • Azeri IDPs have the right to resettle in all of these territories.
  • A new road will be constructed within the Karabakh exclave to bypass the current one passing through Shusha, which reverts to direct Azeri control.
  • There will be a new road constructed from Azerbaijan to its exclave of Nakhichevan.
  • Both routes will be guarded by the Russian FSB Border Service.

There are several issues which are still awaiting resolution.

One of them is the final status of the Karabakh region within Azerbaijan. Arrogantly, though understandably, Aliyev denies that it will have any autonomy whatsoever: “I offered them autonomy but they insisted on independence. Hey Pashinyan, what about now? No words of it there!” On the other hand, with the area policed by Russian peacekeepers, its unclear how direct Azeri jurisdiction is to be restored in practice.

The second issue is whether the Turks will participate in the peacekeeping alongside the Russians. There have been mixed signals on that, with Aliyev claiming that they would be, while the Russian Foreign Minister has insisted otherwise. The most expected outcome is that Turkish participation will be limited to a joint ceasefire monitoring center, and that Turkish troops will not be involved in policing the Karabakh areas that remained under Armenian control alongside the Russians. If that holds, this represents a decided victory for Russian influence in the area.

Leaving these areas will certainly be painful for the Armenians, though it needs be borne in mind that the Caucasus is a brutal place and that the Armenians had in their turn displaced 700,000 Azeris during the 1992-94 war. Its an open question how many of their cultural objects and monuments will survive in the abandoned territories, considering the Azeri destruction of the medieval Armenian cemeteries in Julfa. Of greatest concern is the fate of the Dadivank monastery in Kelbajar, whose abbot Ovanes Hovhannisyan made a memetic splash early in the conflict posing with a cross and a rifle (see right). That said, in a recent welcome development, its handover to Azerbaijan is now claimed to no longer even be a foregone conclusion. In any case, the least that can be said is that a large-scale humanitarian crisis – the short-term expulsion of most of Artsakh’s 150,000 people – has, at least for now, been averted.

Considering the manifold political, diplomatic, and ultimately military mistakes committed by the Pashinyan administration over the past two years, this is as good (or “less bad”) an outcome as the Armenians could have reasonably hoped for after the fall of the “fortress city” of Shusha on November 7. Shusha occupies the high ground over the breakaway republics capital, Stepanakert, so its capture would have only been a week or two away (at best). No Russian diplomatic intervention, and the Armenians would have lost all of Karabakh, not to mention an additional 5,000-10,000 soldiers on top of the ~5,000 already dead. They would have been saddled with a major refugee crisis on top of that.

Not that the diaspora-Sorosoid types who put Pashinyan in power in the first place will ever say thank you. But with any luck they will soon be out of power in Armenia and discredited for a long time. Yerevan is beset with protests by a population that had been misled into thinking they were winning the past few weeks (denial of Azeri advances had become something of a Baghdad Bob-tier meme by the final days), with the HQs of “Radio Freedom” and Soros’ “Open Society Foundation” having been ransacked.

Overall, this represents a significant victory for Russia, with the negative PR from one of its client states losing territory outweighed by the ability to play a mediating role and increasing both Armenian and Azeri dependence on it. (Though perhaps not everybody will see it that way, the Ukrainians now being inspired by the partial success of Azerbaijan’s “Operation Storm” to renew their probing attacks on the LDNR). Turkey benefited by helping its civilizational ally achieve its long-sought military goals, and will presumably expect adequate recompense (e.g. Caspian oilfield concessions). Azerbaijan got back its “sacral” city of Shusha – an event they even made video games about – while incurring human losses similar to Armenia’s but spread over a significantly larger population. As a bonus, they even got a connection to their Nakhichevan exclave, something that would not have been forthcoming even in the event of a total conquest of Artsakh. Meanwhile, although Armenia obviously lost, the scope of its disaster could have been much greater.

Overall, the conflict is now “frozen” again, but in a more sustainable state than was the case hitherto.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Please keep off topic posts to the current Open Thread.

    If you are new to my work, start here.

    Commenting rules. Please note that anonymous comments are not allowed.

  2. You know, I’m surprised that Azerbaijan was actually willing to prematurely halt this war. After all, they could have militarily reconquered all of Nagorno-Karabakh had they kept going. Is a land connection to Nakhichevan really worth that much?

    As for Ukraine, it might very well have to deal with direct Russian military intervention in the event that it will ever try to reconquer the Donbass by force just like Georgia did back in 2008 when it tried to reconquer South Ossetia by force.

  3. They will also get a lot of territory without spending any blood or equipment on reconquering them.
    Not to mention that the Kremlin could have increased support for the Armenian side as a retaliation for shooting down a Russian heli in Armenia.

  4. Azerbaijan simply doesn’t need to reconquer the rest of N.K.R. Armenian military with most of the rest of the population will be gone by the end of the five-year peacekeeping mandate, at which point Azerbaijan will decline to prolong it any further. Then they’ll move in unopposed and formally incorporate the region. Advantages: they get the road to Nachichevan which they wouldn’t get otherwise; they don’t need to fight and lose hundreds or thousands more soldiers; they won’t need to deal with hostile local population. It’s a brilliant end to their operation.

  5. I also strongly suspected that Azerbaijan got a tacit approval for this war from Russia, which was not willing to accept a complete loss of NK but wanted to teach Armenians a lesson after the “color revolution” of 2018.

  6. A solid analysis.

    An unfortunate development for the Armenian people, but not unexpected. At least they got Pashinyan’s perfume as compensation.

    I was hoping that the forests and mountains might prove opportune for a counterattack but it became pretty clear that the AZs were not interested in stupidity.

    Aliyev is significantly more competent and patriotic national leader. He is also more interesting:


    It’s going to be a long time before Armenia is able to rebuild and upgrade its military capabilities. This war was exceptionally intense, and adjusting for populations and army size, in the same league as the world wars in terms of casualties. I’m sure this matter is not yet closed but rather deferred. In a sense, it’s a reminder that here at the ‘end of history’ violence is still sovereign. As President Aliyev said: ‘We have proven that there are military solutions.’ A lot of fine young men have purchased this knowledge.

    Can’t wait to learn more about Azerbaijan’s actual equipment losses if/when that information becomes available.

    Aliyev is probably going to reap dividends for years from this success.

    Interesting that the traditional air forces were largely absent. Drones replaced airplanes and helicopters for scouting, interdiction, and CAS. A glimpse of the future perhaps?

    Maybe there will be an opportunity for an anti-drone drone? A drone fighter optimized for destroying small drones. Traditional air defences certainly proved largely ineffective.

    I also suspect that the drones made counterattacking in any strength impossible. Certainly couldn’t find any evidence of any Artsakhian successes in retaking lost ground other than the odd post or two.

  7. I also suspect that the drones made counterattacking in any strength impossible.

    Did they or was Armenian side just doing it wrong?
    After all, they had the means to strike back against the drone bases.

    By the way, tomorrow marks two weeks of a full-scale military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    Why a number of air bases still exist on the territory of Azerbaijan is a good question.

    Why in the first days of the conflict, the Armenians, instead of immediately destroying the air base where the Turkish F16 and Bayraktars were based, did nothing and suffered unjustified losses for several days-is also a very good question (literally, because of this stupidity of the command, we lost a huge number of people and equipment)

  8. Aliyev would not have tried this if the pandemic hadn’t wiped out his economy. Patriotism has nothing to do with it.

    The blame lies on all the Armenian Karens who believed they achieved the end of history and bla bla bla. Isolating yourself from your only ally is a rookie mistake.

  9. I suspect Putler launched a warning shot: “All Collor Revolution MaidaNuts end as losers”. He timed his “mediation” to save most of NK but at the same time Pashinyan ended humiliated. The outcome might have been far worse for Armenia but at least some NK lands were saved.


  11. I think that the entire NKR will be under azeri political administration (using azeri passports, azeri laws…) but the pre-war armenian majority lands (capital city) will NOT have azeri military presence and will instead have russian troops

    this is probably done to keep the armenian population from being scared by azeri troops and possible ethnic cleansing

  12. Is a land connection to Nakhichevan really worth that much?

    It essentially opens up the 2nd front, making any future war of aggression against Armenia a foregone conclusion, so yes. Without the buffer of the Karabakh region, most of the Iranian border gone, and Azeribaijan been granted a corridor to Nakhichevan, Armenia is essentially in the same position as Czechslovakia following the loss of the Sudetenland and Slovakia.
    Also, it’s far better for Turk PR to force a gradual emigration and withdrawal from Artsakh than force a sudden mass-expulsion, in the end the result is the same. With Stepanakert having lost it’s defensive perimeter, taking it in the future would be a Turkey-shoot, as they say.

  13. Maïkl Makfaïl says

    I dont understand why Russia has not supplied NK with high Tech weapons though.

    Anyway, Soros suffered an embarrassing and crushing defeat in this war . Good thing nobody sane will listen to his foolish advices anymore.

  14. The outcome might have been far worse for Armenia but at least some NK lands were saved.

    They weren’t saved. As Azeri ambassador to Russia said in a recent interview, “this is the final solution to the Karabakh question”. There will be no autonomy given to NK. They just gave the locals some time to get out. In fact, this is the worst possible outcome for Armenia. Even if NK got completely crushed and conquered, Azerbaijan wouldn’t get that very important road to Nachichevan. But, thanks to Putin, Azerbaijan got the best possible deal.

  15. 4Dchessmaster says

    Anatoly, where did you find the 5,000 dead Armenian soldiers from? According to Armenian sources, 1,302 Armenian soldiers were killed.

  16. Thulean Friend says

    The real winner of this conflict was Russia. Whatever you may say about him, putlet handled the diplomacy of his country with supple sophistication. He has essentially humiliated an ungrateful anti-Russian figure in Armenia to the point of making his future untenable. Any future US-aligned politician from Armenia will have Pashinian’s fate to ponder.

    The secondary objective of blocking any Turkish influence has largely been achieved. Contra reports from Erdogan’s media, Turkey does not have a critical role in the peace process. Not even peace keeping troops in the crucial border pass regions.

    This assures escalation dominance for Russia in any future event. Without even spilling any significant amount of Russian blood. The Mi-24 incident was likely a NATO rogue operation in my view, possibly done through their Turkish proxies, to draw in Russia. It failed.

    Armenia’s situation is now utterly terrible and all but mandates that they creep back to the Kremlin on all four. If they still insist on cosying up to those who never even lifted a finger to help them – Pashinian called the US, France and Germany and refused to call Moscow for help as long as he could – then they deserve the fate that befalls them. Life has no mercy on the foolish.

  17. I think he’s extrapolating from earlier statements.

  18. Good thing nobody sane will listen to his foolish advices anymore.

    You overestimate human intelligence. As they say in the US, “a sucker is born every minute”. Einstein was right: “only two things are infinite, the Universe and human stupidity. And I am not sure about the Universe”.

    As an aside, advice has no plural.

  19. That’s a very serious charge not to be taken lightly, I’ll have to look into it to verify. In any case Armenia doesn’t have any choice but to accept it, even if it’s true.

  20. Worth noting that this commenter has no previous history on this website.. I’ve also never heard of the ‘Armenia-Artsakh Awareness Center’ in my life, and search brings up nothing except a Facebook group, heh.
    I quick look at this ‘center’, it seems to be as interested in attacking figures like Petrosyan as reporting on the war, it’s also entirely in English.

  21. There’s stuff on this thing calling for Armenians to reject the peace-deal, aka national suicide. Can’t tell this thing is just retards in the diaspora, linked to some NGO, or even Turkish black propaganda, although occam’s razor would suggest the first.

    Approvingly quoting what is presumably some neocon outlet in France:
    “L’Opinion considers the war in Artsakh another failure of France after Syria and Libya”

    Presumably for not taking out Assad. Of course Syria and Lebanon are full of Armenians who know better.


    Well, this image about sums it up. Ok, I’ve spent enough time looking at such BS.

  22. Felix Keverich says

    Not sure about Russia, but I strongly suspect they had secured support of the West. Just look at the mostly indifferent coverage in Western media, and contrast it with histrionics during battle of Aleppo. Aleppo because a topic of US presidential campaign because the media forced the issue. Karabakh war (despite the best efforts of Armenian lobby) did not.

  23. I don’t really understand what prevents AZ from finishing the job in 5-10 years. Neither Moldova nor Georgia had an option to initiate peacekeepers’ withdrawal. In that case, it’s hard to see it as a big Russian victory. More like saving its ally from an immediate defeat and giving locals some time to pack up.
    On a related note, it’s funny how both Europeans and Russians really hate the idea of conflicts being decisively resolved.

  24. 4Dchessmaster says

    I agree. If the Western media wanted to bring up the topic, then they easily could have.

    On another note, I am so tired of how U.S. Presidential elections are always a circus freak show that last for months on end. The media coverage from the U.S. and abroad of these elections is always excessive and time consuming.

  25. I think I explained it in other posts, but basically:
    * The official figures are bunkum, probably more than 1,302 died from drones that were recorded on footage alone. The Azeris haven’t released figures (probably the right decision).
    * Putin estimated close to 5,000 combined losses midway through the conflict, this was probably based on Russian military intelligence estimates, I trust that more than Armenian/Azeri propaganda.
    * Extrapolation to today would suggest the figure has since increased to close to 10,000. Probably the ratio turned against the Armenians as well, given the collapse of their defense lines and the reports out of Shusha. So whereas the Armenians had inflicted slightly more casualties on the Azeris in the first half of the conflict (even worse than the already pessimistic 1:1.5-2 I had projected after the first 5 days), I expect the final tally to be around 1:1.

  26. TheTotallyAnonymous says


    This is all too familiar (not my tweet) …

  27. TheTotallyAnonymous says

    Armenia is essentially in the same position as Czechslovakia following the loss of the Sudetenland and Slovakia.

    It’s not that bad, it’s just the same thing as before, but with most of Artsakh now lost and Armenians there, like in Armenia proper being at the complete and utter mercy of Russia (now even more so than before this outcome).

    Azeris and Turks won’t take any part of Syunik because Russia completely controls the corridor there now. There may be more future probing attacks on the borders of Armenia proper though (but they can’t get very far because of Russian military bases) …

  28. Is it set in stone that all the areas in that map (except the remaining NK) will be handed over to Azerbaijan, or is it still open for negotiation until 1 December?

    What does Russia gain from ceding those territories to Azerbaijan, except for punishing Pashinyan for his anti-Russian policies?

  29. TheTotallyAnonymous says

    Is it set in stone that all the areas in that map (except the remaining NK) will be handed over to Azerbaijan, or is it still open for negotiation until 1 December?

    I think the much more important question is what will happen to the “remaining NK” after 5 years, especially if Russian peacekeepers have to leave (after however many set of 5 year time periods), because future prospects for Armenians will then be especially bleak …

  30. I expect the bulk of the armenians remaining in NK will flee before the first 5 years are up, knowing that they have no future there.

  31. Felix Keverich says

    Because protecting head-chopping jihadists is such a no-brainer?

  32. The remaining Armenians will leave during the next 5 years, knowing that Azerbaijan will veto the peacekeeping troops. Azerbaijan gets everything. That is the essence of the deal. The only thing Putin did for Armenia here is help them avoid a giant massacre. They belong to Russia now.

  33. Yes if we take Lybia and Syria into account. The US would rather support them and never mention it rather than look like it’s helping Russia.

  34. TheTotallyAnonymous says

    Then we will see whether Monte Melkonian was right after all …


    “If we lose [Artsakh], we turn the final page of our people’s [Armenian] history…” – Monte Melkonian

    I could be wrong, but my impression is that the Caucasus is like the Balkans, where nothing ever ends and there is always a next time or another round, no matter how far in the future (usually every 20-50 years approximately).

  35. Yes definitely seems that way. Armenia is in an especially precarious position. They’d better get over their dalliance with Sorosism permanently, otherwise they could lose even what they have left.

  36. What does Russia gain from ceding those territories to Azerbaijan, except for punishing Pashinyan for his anti-Russian policies?

    Armenians, at least if they are not clinical morons, will punish Pashinian and his sorosoids themselves. Pretty much like Georgians kicked out Saakashvili after his ill-fated adventure in South Ossetia. So, this is not the main Russian gain, more like an added bonus.

    I see two Russian gains. One, Russia acquired essentially w/o loss of life a large military foothold in Caucuses, and alternative to their base near Gyumri in Armenia. Two, Turkey contributed a lot to Azeri victory, but Putin, no doubt with the approval of both Aliyev and Iran, gave it only a small bone. Wannabe sultan was stupid enough to be cheated again.

  37. The media coverage from the U.S. and abroad of these elections is always excessive and time consuming.

    Remember “bread and circuses”? Considering how rigged it was, the US election certainly qualifies as a circus.

  38. This is also a very bad news for Juanita and her zmagars troupe.

  39. A few Iskander-M/Iskander-K deployed on NK would add beauty to this happy outcome.

  40. prime noticer says

    new System Of A Down song about how Armenia lost and got owned?

    probably not. back to writing songs about how much America sucks, while they stay in America and never go back to the loser dump they came from.

    i prefer Tim Kurkjian.

  41. 4Dchessmaster says

    I remember you from the other post. Still bitter about your girlfriend hooking up with Serj Tankian? Or was it John Dolmayan? Or maybe it was all the SOAD band members? LMAO.

  42. back to writing songs about how much America sucks

    That would be fitting actually considering Armenia fell for western signaling of providing support for pro-western governments.

  43. prime noticer says

    lol. not one song about how much Russia or the Soviets sucked, even though they literally owned Armenia for decades, and now Russia is about to make Armenia have a lesser future.

    how is there any difference between SOAD and a million other useless dirt country peasants always fleeing to the west then talking about how much it sucks? apparently SOAD has now raised $600,000 to send back to the mother country. pretty much no different than mexicans here. Trump should tax THAT remittance.

    more Mark Krikorians, please.

    justice for Ray Damadian.