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The territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and its population have been in limbo and status quo since the first war over Karabakh in the beginning of the nineties. Armenia and the self proclaimed Republic of Artsakh have for the past 27 years and the 1994 ceasefire maintained a status qu and have never really been ready to compromise with Azerbaijan on control of Nagorno-Karabakh or even the Azerbaijani surrounding territories that were occupied during the past 3 decades. The Nagorno-Karabakh frozen conflict has created divisions in the south Caucasus and isolation for Armenians. This leverage has been used by Russia in a divide and rule approach to the region ever since Stalin started ethnic, land and population engineering ninety years ago. During the past decades, Russia has been consistently arming both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Armenia is part of a formal military alliance with Russia, this does not extend to Nagorno-Karabakh who has always been recognised as part of Azerbaijan internationally. On 27 September 2020 a armed conflict between Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh together with Armenia erupted in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories. It was the first major armed conflict, except for the 4-day April 2016 war, since the 1994 ceasefire following the first Karabakh war. The region of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories are internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan and represent nearly 20% of its territory. Since 1994 it has however been under control and governed by Artsakh, a breakaway state with a homogeneous Armenian population. The 44-day war started with initial Azerbaijani offensives along the line of contact and gradually evolving in a massive offensive in the southern flatter parts of the region. The war was marked by overwhelming use of attack drones that took out Armenian defense lines and made a massive number of casualties before the main offensive even started. Current estimates put the current number of casualties at more than 8,000 on both sides, more than 5,000 on the Armenian side alone. The number of casualties is probably higher as many are still missing and unaccounted for. Ten thousands of civilians have been displaced within Nagorno-Karabakh and in towns close to the frontline in Azerbaijan. Widespread use of long-range artillery, missile strikes and cluster munitions on cities and civilian areas within Nagorno-Karabakh and in Azerbaijan by both sides has created another generation of displaced people in addition to the one million displaced Armenians and Azerbaijani of the first Karabakh war between 1991 and 1994. Following the capture of the southern parts of Nagorno-Karabakh by the Azerbaijani forces and Shushi, the second town in Karabakh, a ceasefire agreement was signed on 9 November 2020 between Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia. The ceasefire agreement was mediated and sponsored by Russia and stipulates that the sides will keep control of the currently held areas within Nagorno-Karabakh, while Armenia has to return to Azerbaijan all surrounding areas it occupied since 1994. Around 2000 Russian soldiers are deployed as peacekeeping forces, for at least 5 years, along the Lachin corridor linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and within the Armenian controlled part of Nagorno-Karabakh. Without this ceasefire agreement the whole territory of Nagorno-Karabakh would probably have been overran by the Azerbaijani army, or at least its capital Stepanakert which was within 5 km after the capture of Shushi and emptied of its population by the 9th of November. Since the ceasefire and the deployment of Russian troops, Armenians have slowly started to return to the areas of Nagorno-Karabakh still under control of the Armenian authorities, faced with new geographical, military and political realities they were not prepared for. For the moment the ceasefire holds, but a comprehensive inclusive peace agreement is still very far away and the risk to enter into the same status quo as for the past 27 years is very real. It will require a lot of political and emotional courage to go beyond divisions and reconcile around things that could be of common interest. In meanwhile the presence of peacekeeping troops will guarantee a status quo but not peace. Armenian soldier holding the Artsakh flag. Artsakh is for Armenians the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding captured lands during the first war between 1991 and 1994. The self proclaimed Republic of Artsakh was never recognised internationally. Southern frontline road between Karmir Shuka and Chartar, Nagorno-Karabakh, December 2020