The continuous flare-ups in the territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan goes against the efforts of the United Nations (UN) to implement a global ceasefire amid COVID-19. The situation can turn ugly, as both sides have brushed off any suggestion of peace talks.

As tensions are mounting and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is widening, another war is on the horizon. Directly firing into each other’s territory and rejecting the urgent appeals from Russia, the United States and others to halt the fighting increases the chances of an all-out war.

Preventing war is the real challenge for the global powers, especially Russia, as the ongoing conflict reignites the stability concerns in the Caucasus region. Turkey will also feel the heat in case the hostility escalates. Similarly, the situation is another test for international bodies, the UN and the Security Council in particular.

The fact that both sides accuse each other of targeting civilians and damaging civilian property and infrastructure is alarming. The global powers, as well as the UN and SC, must take immediate steps to contain the conflict. The two sides must be convinced to enter into a ceasefire.

Armenia must realise that supporting the residents of the region—predominantly ethnic Armenians—and violating the territorial sovereignty of Azerbaijan is considered a violation of international law. Armenia must understand that no country has recognised Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent republic. Thus, many will perceive Armenia as the one that has taken a match to the fuel until a fact-finding report determines which state committed a military provocation.

Meanwhile, the global powers and UN must acknowledge that the renewed hostilities are due to the failure of mediation efforts and their inability to prevent the ceasefire violations. If SC fails to end the skirmishes between the two states, avoiding a regional crisis will be impossible.