Nagorno-Karabakh is a small mountainous territory in the South Caucasus caught in limbo. Officially part of Azerbaijan, it has functioned as a region of Armenia since the two former Soviet republics fought a bloody war over the land as the Soviet Union fell apart. While it has declared itself an independent country, and fields a president, foreign ministry, and military, no other countries recognize it as such.
A 1994 ceasefire brought an end only to official hostilities. In early April 2016 fighting once again erupted for four intense days, killing dozens on each side. Azerbaijan was blamed for initiating the conflict; after years of oil-fueled growth, economic weaknesses have shown through with prolonged low oil prices, and many speculate that the fighting was timed to stave off domestic complaints. Regardless of the reason, the apparent fragility of the status quo has set each side on edge and made a bigger flare-up even more likely.