A forgotten war is gaining new momentum in the Caucasus, as opponents arm themselves with increasingly advanced drone technology for spying and strikes. The alarming implications stretch far beyond a small corner of Eurasia.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, conflict between the newly independent states of Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up over Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave that’s legally part of Azerbaijan. A ceasefire was brokered by Russia in 1994, after Armenia gained effective control of the territory. Nagorno-Karabakh has declared itself an independent state called Artsakh but has failed to win international recognition and is still widely considered part of Azerbaijan. Conflict simmers between Azerbaijan and Artsakh with their patron Armenia.
In 2016 matters boiled over into open warfare with dozens and perhaps hundreds killed on both sides. Intermittent violence has continued since. The 2016 escalation was notable for a new type of weapon, the Harop ‘loitering munition’ or kamikaze drone supplied to the Azeris by Israel. Harops reportedly successfully hit many targets including artillery, air defense systems artillery system and a busload of Armenian troops.