Andrew Andersen



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In April 1920, Soviet Russian 11th Army invaded Azerbaijan. By the end of April, Azerbaijani People's Democratic Republic collapsed. Facing little resistance on behalf of disorganized Azerbaijani army Armenian troops and guerillas took over all of the disputed territories. On April 29, Soviet occupants and local communists proclaimed Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic in Baku. Immediately after that, following orders from Moscow, the Soviets launched offensive against Armenia aiming at the expansion of Soviet Azerbaijan through the conquest of disputed territories. Former Azerbaijani army was fighting alongside the 11th Army of Soviet Russia against Armenian “imperialists” and “bourgeois nationalists”. In order to weaken Armenian resistance, the communists of Armenia subordinate to Moscow, were ordered to start an uprising and overthrow the government of Armenian Republic. The attempted communist coup was unsuccessful. In spite of the fact that Armenian communists managed to take over the towns of Alexandropol, Kars, Sarakykamysh, as well as several villages in disputed Kazakh-Shamshadin area, the uprising was put down by the government troops and police in less than a month. However, it undermined the efforts of Armenia to withstand Soviet invasion and led to the series of military defeats in Kazakh-Shamshadin and Karabakh.


In late May 1920, the Soviet Russia offered Armenia to solve territorial disputes through negotiations. Armenia accepted the Soviet proposal and Soviet-Armenian negotiations started in Moscow immediately. They lasted several weeks and did not seem to be productive.



The ruins of Shusha / June 1920


While the delegations were arguing about the future borders, the Soviet troops kept forcing Armenians out of Karabakh. On June 5 they took over Shusha and two weeks later all organized Armenian resistance in that disputed area was crushed. After June 15, only few isolated groups of Armenian fighters kept conducting guerilla operations in the mountains of Karabakh.


In spite of the fact that Soviet representatives at Moscow negotiations Chicherin and Karakhan agreed to leave Zanghezur, Sharur, Naxcivan and Ordubad districts as well as most of Kazakh-Shamshadin under Armenian control providing Armenia gives up Karabakh, the

Soviet troops also invaded Zanghezur and on July 1 took its major town of Tatev. Simultaneously the Turkish regular troops crossed the Iranian border and started concentrating in Maku area of North-Western Iran preparing to cross Araxi river and take Naxcivan. In the middle of July, 1920 Turkish and Soviet command agreed to start joint military action in Sharur against their common enemy. Both the Soviets and the Turks launched offensive against Naxcivan. On July 28, attacked from the two sides and outnumbered by the enemy, Armenian defenders of Naxcivan left the town and retreated westwards. The next day “Soviet Socialist Republic of Naxcivan” was proclaimed, and its “Revolutionary Committee” offered Yerevan to recognize independence of a new “independent state”. In early August, Armenian troops made one more attempt to take over Naxcivan but were defeated at Shakh-Takhty by joint Soviet-Turkish corps.


On August 10 1920, the cease-fire agreement was signed in Yerevan by the representatives of Soviet and Armenian governments leaving Armenia without most of the disputed territories but ending the hostilities along Soviet-Armenian front-lines for more than three months. Sporadic fighting continued in Karabakh and Zanghezur districts where several Armenian warlords refused to stop guerilla war.