The Minsk Group, led by the United States, France, and Russia, has brokered the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict since the mid-1990s after Armenia-backed secessionists in the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic won the first Karabakh war of 1992–94. That mediation embodied the ideals of the mid-1990s unipolar moment, which assumed that liberalized markets and democratic transitions would converge internally to resolve legacy conflicts in postsocialist states while bringing them into convergence externally with Euro-Atlantic nations. Those assumptions withered away over the next quarter-century. Neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia transitioned to liberal democracy. Backed by an increasingly assertive Turkey, Azerbaijan prevailed in a bloody war in 2020. This time, the regional authoritarian powers, Russia and Turkey, are overseeing what could be a test case for a new form of “illiberal peace.”

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