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Violence Flares in Nagorno-Karabakh

The cease-fire between Armenia and Azerbaijan looks shaky, despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers.

By , a senior editor at Foreign Policy.
Protesters hold a flag representing the  breakaway Republic of Artsakh during a rally in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 6.
Protesters hold a flag representing the breakaway Republic of Artsakh during a rally in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 6.
Protesters hold a flag representing the breakaway Republic of Artsakh during a rally in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 6. KAREN MINASYAN/AFP via Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh flare despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers, Iran and the United States resume nuclear talks in Vienna, and Cambodia hosts high-level diplomacy among ASEAN foreign ministers and other officials.

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Conflict Reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: Clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh flare despite the presence of Russian peacekeepers, Iran and the United States resume nuclear talks in Vienna, and Cambodia hosts high-level diplomacy among ASEAN foreign ministers and other officials.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Conflict Reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh

Clashes flared between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Wednesday, raising concerns about spiraling violence nearly two years after a war in the region. At least three soldiers died in the latest fighting.

Nagorno-Karabakh, which is populated mostly by Armenians, is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought over the region for decades. They have not reached a formal peace agreement in the wake of their most recent 44-day war, which ended in Azerbaijan’s favor. Yerevan saw large protests in May calling for the resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in part over his handling of the conflict.

In 2020, Azerbaijan took over part of Nagorno-Karabakh as well as areas it lost during a previous conflict in the 1990s, with Turkish military support. As part of a cease-fire agreement brokered in November 2020 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, around 2,000 Russian peacekeeping forces remain in the region. The latest clashes occurred in the Lachin corridor, which the Russian forces oversee.

Armenia and Azerbaijan traded blame on Wednesday, each saying that the other side had launched an attack in areas controlled by the Russian peacekeepers. The Russian defense ministry said Azerbaijani forces had violated the cease-fire; Russia has historically supported Armenia, although it did not intervene on its behalf in 2020. The European Union has called for an immediate end to hostilities.

There have been signs of building tensions in recent months, with Armenia accusing Azerbaijan of violating the cease-fire in March. The countries’ leaders met for talks in Brussels this spring mediated by the EU Council president, but a formal framework for peace negotiations remains out of reach so far. Russia’s military is of course preoccupied with its own war in Ukraine, where it appears to be preparing for a battle in the south; this likely limits Moscow’s appetite for further involvement in Nagorno-Karabakh in the event of renewed conflict.

Meanwhile, Turkey remains a key player. In recent weeks, Armenia had looked toward normalizing ties with Turkey—perhaps in an effort to seek stability in the South Caucasus. Armenia and Turkey’s own border has been closed since the 1990s conflict. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made clear that any further progress in the talks between Yerevan and Ankara is contingent on Armenia’s negotiations with Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan has benefited from Russia’s war in Ukraine in another way: The EU agreed to double its natural gas imports from the country by 2027 as it seeks to wean itself off Russian energy supplies. That could have consequences in Nagorno-Karabakh, with Brussels becoming dependent on Baku for some of its resources, as Gabriel Gavin wrote in Foreign Policy in May.


What We’re Following Today

Iran nuclear talks resume. Top Iranian and U.S. officials are expected to resume nuclear talks in Vienna today. The discussions are focused on reviving the 2015 agreement that former U.S. President Donald Trump upended, which had offered economic relief in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. Officials from both sides have played down the potential for progress at the meetings in Vienna, with each highlighting the need for compromise.

The talks broke down earlier this year over Iran’s request for a guarantee that a future U.S. president wouldn’t abandon the deal. However, Kourosh Ziabari argues in Foreign Policy that the Raisi administration’s diplomatic incompetence has played a large role in the current impasse.

Diplomacy in Phnom Penh. Cambodia is hosting the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for high-level meetings with officials from other countries, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The meetings have so far been overshadowed by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan as well as escalating violence in Myanmar, which is not represented at the summit.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the current ASEAN chair, has suggested rethinking the bloc’s approach to Myanmar after the country’s ruling junta executed four political prisoners. Blinken is expected to meet one on one with Hun Sen.


Keep an Eye On

Kenya’s election campaign. Kenya is in the final days of campaigning ahead of the Aug. 9 elections, with the presidential contest expected to be especially close: Outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta has unexpectedly thrown his support behind opposition leader and onetime enemy Raila Odinga. The campaign has also drawn attention to the country’s vast inequality, with candidates not required to publicly document donations or spending.

FP’s Nosmot Gbadamosi digs into what’s at stake in the election and the rivals-turned-allies in our latest Africa Brief.

Beirut blast anniversary. Today marks the second anniversary of the Beirut port explosion that killed at least 215 people and displaced thousands. Despite its effect on the city, an investigation—now frozen for months—has so far failed to hold any Lebanese officials responsible. On July 31, part of the grain silos at the port collapsed due to damage from the 2020 blast, reviving traumatic memories and raising questions about accountability.


FP Insider: Climate Finance and Geostrategic Interests in the Pacific

The Pacific islands—comprising 14 countries and seven territories—are an underdiscussed, yet increasingly important, strategic theater when it comes to great-power politics as well as transnational challenges such as climate change.

As U.S.-China relations steadily deteriorate under mounting economic, military, and technological competition, the Pacific islands are caught between global superpowers vying for regional influence while trying to advance their economies and withstand the accelerating impacts of climate change.

This FP Insider Brief explores Chinese and U.S. strategic and security interests in the Pacific region, the potential economic and security impacts of climate change on the Pacific islands, and the role of climate development finance in Pacific island countries’ economies.


Odds and Ends

Conservationists in Haiti have located a native magnolia species not seen by scientists for 97 years in a remote area of the country’s longest mountain range. The northern Haiti magnolia (Magnolia emarginata) originally grew in the Morne Colombo area, which has suffered major deforestation. (Only 1 percent of Haiti’s original forest cover remains intact.)

Experts had put the magnolia on a red list for endangered species, but the recent discovery gives some conservationists hope about the possibility of rewilding other native species in Haiti. The team that found the magnolia spotted 16 other flowering trees from the same species, in addition to juvenile specimens.

Audrey Wilson is a senior editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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