Post-Nagorno-Karabakh: new geopolitical dynamics in the South Caucasus

Past event Online

Peace, Security & Defence
Friends of Europe Post-Nagorno-Karabakh: new geopolitical dynamics in the South Caucasus 2023


Despite international recognition as part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh had functioned as the self-governing Republic of Artsakh, with Armenia’s backing, since the 1990s. The conflict over this region, which boasts a predominantly Armenian population of approximately 120,000 people, had been simmering since late 2020. Last month, the situation took a dramatic turn when Azerbaijan initiated a military offensive to seize Nagorno-Karabakh, following a nine-month blockade of the Lachin Corridor. Remarkably, a ceasefire proposal was accepted by Karabakh authorities just 24 hours after the initiation of the hostilities.

Azerbaijan claimed a military victory, while Armenia accused Baku’s forces of engaging in ethnic cleansing against the Armenian population in the region. Fears of persecution triggered a mass exodus, with more than 100,000 people fleeing to Armenia as of 4 October. In response to these developments, Yerevan witnessed Moscow-supported protests demanding the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

From a geopolitical perspective, the dissolution of this enclave has become both a catalyst and a reflection of the broader dynamics that are reshaping the South Caucasus. Notably, the coveted ‘Zangezur corridor’, which would connect the Azeri mainland with the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic without Armenian checkpoints, has been a long-standing goal for Azerbaijan. Moscow’s quiet acquiescence of the Azeri military offensive reflects Armenia’s geopolitical shift towards the West and Russia’s reliance on Azeri gas supplies. Furthermore, the dissolution of Nagorno-Karabakh could embolden Ankara in its pursuit of a corridor linking Turkey with Turkic countries in Central Asia. This instant briefing dissected this geopolitical puzzle, explaining that the recent developments are not isolated events but rather interconnected threads that will profoundly reshape the South Caucasus in the years to come.

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Participants connect online
Post-Nagorno-Karabakh: new geopolitical dynamics in the South Caucasus
Expand Post-Nagorno-Karabakh: new geopolitical dynamics in the South Caucasus
  • Was Russia’s inaction the result of Armenia’s tightening relations with the West?
  • Does the dissolution of Nagorno-Karabakh give impetus to Ankara’s pursuit in setting up a corridor connecting Turkey with the Turkic states of Central Asia? And to what extent has Iran, which has previously opposed a land corridor, changed its stance on this?
  • How will Armenia’s strategic relations with India and Iran develop in the post-Nagorno-Karabakh period?
  • Particularly in view of the EU’s dependency on Azeri oil and gas, how should its strategic partnership with Azerbaijan look like going forward?


Leila Alieva
Leila Alieva

Affiliate of Russian and East European Studies at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA)

Show more information on Leila Alieva

Leila is an Affiliate of Russian and East European Studies at OSGA, prior to which she was a senior common room member and academic visitor at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. Originally from Azerbaijan, she founded and directed two think tanks in Baku and previously held fellowships at Harvard University, UC Berkeley, Kennan Institute, the NATO Defence College and IFK (Institut Für Kulturwissenschaften) Vienna. Her research and publications cover Azerbaijan, the Caucasus, Russia and the broader former Soviet Union, ranging thematically from energy security and conflicts, to democracy in oil-rich states, as well as issues around EU and NATO integration.

Robert Cekuta

Former US ambassador to Azerbaijan

Show more information on Robert Cekuta

Robert Cekuta is the former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, with four decades of experience in the US Foreign Service. His overseas assignments included economic minister in Berlin and Tokyo, deputy chief of mission in Albania, as well as postings in Kabul, Vienna, Baghdad, Johannesburg and Sana’a, Yemen. Cekuta’s previous positions in the State Department include principal deputy assistant secretary for energy resources and deputy assistant secretary for energy, sanctions and commodities as well as director for economic policy analysis and public diplomacy. As an economic officer, his work focused on trade, development and energy security issues.

Neil MacFarlane

Professor Emeritus of Oxford University

Show more information on Neil MacFarlane

Professor Neil MacFarlane was elected to the Lester B. Pearson Professorship in International Relations at the University of Oxford nearly three decades ago and currently holds an associate fellowship at the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House). He was the head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford. He. He is an expert on the former Soviet Union and has written extensively on Soviet and developing World relations, post-Soviet security issues, international engagement in civil conflict, the evolving meaning of security, Georgian and Caucasian security issues, and contemporary changes in the international system more broadly. He has consulted for the UNDP in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia. MacFarlane became head of the international PhD programme in international relations at Tbilisi State University in August 2010 and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University one year later.


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