As the world attention is caught up in the Russia-Ukraine war, another trouble is silently brewing in the Southern Caucasian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, despite a ceasefire and two peace deals between Azerbaijan and Armenia brokered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and Russia in 1994 and 2020. Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous region of Azerbaijan dominantly populated by ethnic Armenians, has remained a disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia since the early last century. After the inclusion of both the republics in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the conflict remained dormant for decades, only to flare up again when the former Soviet Union was close to its disintegration. For the first time in modern history, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh cropped up in 1988 with a massive uprising inside Armenia and among the ethnic Armenian population in Stepanakert (historically Khankendi), the regional capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, when both Azerbaijan and Armenia claimed control over the region. A fragile truce was made when, under Moscow’s intervention, the region was returned to Azerbaijan’s control in 1989. However, peace could not last long as a harsh resistance kept emanating from Yerevan and the ethnic Armenians in and around Nagorno-Karabakh refused to accept Baku’s authority. In 1991 Azerbaijan brought the region under its control by force. In December the same year, the dominant Armenian population of the enclave again declared their independence. Both 1994 and 2020 peace agreements acknowledged Baku’s sovereignty but neither Armenia nor ethnic Armenians appear ready to concede Nagorno-Karabakh. This ignited a fierce war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. On the heels of this trouble came the disintegration of the Soviet Union with both the countries becoming independent republics. Even then, Nagorno-Karabakh remained a bone of contention between them. When the war turned violent, Armenia sought OSCE’s Minsk Group’s intervention for mediation. A peace agreement was stricken between the two republics in 1994 under the mediation of the Minsk Group. Despite that deal, a comparative calm prevailed on the surface for well over two decades but ethnic prejudice continued to simmer between the Azeri and Armenian communities, which aggravated over time. The feud broke into an intensive war between the Azeri and Armenian forces in September 2020. As a result, Azerbaijan regained control over much of its areas captured by Armenia. While the United Nations urged both countries to exercise restraint, the Russian Federation and the OSCE Minsk Group renewed their efforts to end the conflict. On November 10, 2020, a trilateral peace agreement was struck between Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The deal was signed by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Under this agreement, Azerbaijan was allowed to hold control of those areas of Nagorno-Karabakh, which it has already brought under its sway. Similarly, Armenia was asked to withdraw its forces from several other areas surrounding the region. Both sides were to observe a ceasefire and 2000 Russian troops were to be deployed for monitoring the truce. While Azerbaijan received the peace agreement with celebrations and President Aliyev dubbed it as “Armenia’s capitulation,” for Armenians it was not less than infliction. Premier Pashinyan, himself a signatory to the agreement, described it as “incredibly painful both for me and for our people.” The anger among the Armenian people was so violent that a large number of protesters stormed the parliament in Yerevan, beating the Speaker and ransacking the Prime Minister’s office. Both the 1994 and the 2020 peace agreements, brokered by Russia and the OSCE, did acknowledge Baku’s sovereignty over the region but neither Armenia nor the ethnic Armenians appear ready to concede Nagorno-Karabakh. Against this background, tension has once again increased in and around Nagorno-Karabakh over the last several weeks. Both Baku and Yerevan accuse each other of ceasefire violations. “There are problems,” Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan has been quoted as saying, underscoring the need for “steps” to normalise the situation. Armenia claims that while the Russian military is held up in the Ukraine war, Azerbaijan is trying to take advantage of the situation and seize Nagorno-Karabakh and expel the ethnic Armenians. Yerevan is accusing the Azeri military forces of shelling Armenian villages. In recent weeks, an exchange of fire also took place on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan’s autonomous region of Nakhichevan. One Armenian soldier was killed. Armenians claim that Azerbaijan is busy in the heavy military build-up with a large number of military vehicles roaming around close to the Line of Contact between Azerbaijan’s autonomous territories and the Armenian villages. There are also allegations that Azeri forces are broadcasting messages to Armenian villages warning them to vacate the area. When supply to Nagorno-Karabakh was disconnected in recent times, there were allegations that a pipeline passing through the territory held up by the Azeri military was damaged. Amidst these claims, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has sent a five-point peace proposal to Armenia, which calls for respecting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity besides reciprocal recognition of international borders. The proposal also calls for cessation of territorial claims, stopping of posing threat to each other’s security, demarcation of borders, the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations and opening of lines of transport and communications. While Armenia is yet to respond to the Azeri proposal, it is seeking the intervention of the OSCE Minsk Group for mediation. In this situation when Russia and the European powers remain tied up to the war in Ukraine, even a minor miscalculation can once again plunge the strategic Caucasian region into a conflagration if the international community fails to take cognizance of the growing tension. The writer is an independent freelance journalist based in Islamabad covering South Asia/ Central Asia.