In Azerbaijan, Winning the War in Nagorno-Karabakh Was Easier Than Reconciling With Armenia

By Ann M. Simmons

 | Photographs by Justyna Mielnikiewicz for The Wall Street Journal

Jan. 29, 2021 8:28 am ET

BAKU, Azerbaijan—Last October, Yusif Budaqov, a young sniper fighting in Azerbaijan’s army in the battle for Nagorno-Karabakh, was killed two weeks after his 23rd birthday, one of thousands of casualties in the conflict with Armenia.

His family still mourns him, plastering their home with photos of his childhood and early military days. There is little prospect of reconciling with Armenia now the fighting is over, said his mother, Latafa Budaqova.

“It’s not possible,” she said. They “came to our land and our children are dead because of them.”

For years, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been at loggerheads over their conflicting claims to Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but was controlled by ethnic Armenians for almost three decades.

Last fall, Azeri forces reclaimed swaths of the territory. A subsequent truce brokered by Russia in November aimed to end the dispute over the mountainous enclave for good.