Thorny regional demographic divisions and ethno-religious clashes have marked the Caucuses since its incorporation into the Russian empire in the early 19th century. With the Bolshevik conquest of the Transcaucasian states in the wake of the First World War the Armenian majority region was turned into the Nagorno-Karabakh Oblast, a quasi-independent enclave of Armenians within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. Although predominantly composed of an Armenian population, the territory remained within the borders of Azerbaijan and was tied closer to Baku than it was to Armenia’s Yerevan. Moscow’s strong arm in the matter ensured that ethno-religious tensions, between the mainly Christian Armenians and Muslim Azeris, did not spill over into clashes or conflict. The Soviets were not able to create peace, rather they just were able to delay war.
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