The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is an autonomous enclave of Azerbaijan. It is separated from the rest of Azerbaijan and completely surrounded by other countries. It shared a tiny sliver of border with Turkey on the west.
It was formerly owned by what was then Persia (now Iran) and then in the early 1800s after the Russian-Persian war, by Russia.
That changed again with the 1917 Russian revolution when it was contested by Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Fast forward to 1990 when it declared independence from the USSR to show solidarity with the nationalist movement in Azerbaijan, and the following year it declared itself the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic within the newly independent Republic of Azerbaijan.
That decision to ally with Azerbaijan resulted in conflicts and cross-conflicts with Armenia, Turkey, and Russia – who all had an interest in the region.
Nagorno-Karabakh is another region close by, internationally recognised as being part of Azerbaijan but run as an independent state by the Armenian ethnic majority. Not being a country, it isn’t marked on most maps and I have coloured it fuchsia on this Google map.
The Lachin Corridor
In a statement to the United Nations on 18 September 2005, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, said “It is the issue of communication of the Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan with Armenia and that of the Azerbaijanis living in the Nakhchivan region of Azerbaijan with the rest of the country. We suggest the using of the so-called Lachin corridor – which should be called “Road of Peace” – by both sides in both directions provided that security of this road will be ensured by the multinational peacekeeping forces at the initial stage”
On 22 Dec, Michael Carpenter of the US Government published a long thread on Twitter. One tweet was a warning about a “A military flare-up in Nagorno-Karabakh if Prime Minister Pashinyan does not cater to corrupt Russian interests in Armenia.”
Update September 2023
The BBC and other news outlets are reporting today about demonstrations that have been taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh’s regional capital Stepanakert. The demonstrators are demanding the reopening of the Lachin Corridor linking the Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia
For nearly nine months the corridor has been blocked by Azerbaijani authorities, resulting in shortages of food, medication, hygiene products and fuel.
What a mess.