Azerbaijan’s False Propaganda During and After the Third Artsakh War

Written by: Astghik Babayan

Past wars have shown that information flow is a powerful weapon in carring out military operations against the opposing force, and if a state does not have the capacity to counterattack this weapon, they may have a serious problem. The purpose of such information-psychological pressures is, to one degree or another, to mislead the listener. Such actions can lead to the division and disintegration of the opposing force.

Propaganda is a set of periodic activities used to spread thoughts and ideas in a variety of means. It pursues political, economic, religious, and military goals, and tries to orient public opinion to change the actions of the targeted individuals. During wars, propaganda is used to demonize the opposing side and incite hatred by controlling public perception.

On September 27, 2020, Armenians faced a new type of war, while they were still trying to resolve the problems that were created by the previous Artsakh (also referred to as Nagorno-Karabakh) wars. Azerbaijan’s propaganda machine was constantly active, spreading misconceptions in the international community about Armenian’s military policy, methods, and means of waging war. The combination of research and reality itself shows Azerbaijan’s blatant distortion of facts.

Azerbaijan’s propaganda become more active in September 19 , 2020, when the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, in an interview accused the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan of carrying out various “provocations” to escalate the Karabakh conflict.[1] Two days later, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan issued a statement about an Azerbaijani soldier, Mammadov Elshan Ali Oglu, stating that he had been killed on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border by an “Armenian bullet.”[2] This news spread in the Azerbaijani media at an unprecedented speed, even though Azerbaijan usually is silent about such losses.

During the third Artsakh war the Azerbaijani propaganda forces worked with great vigor. For example, during an interview Aliyev stated that “Despite the fact that they are shelling our ancient historical city Ganja, we have not fired on the cities of either Armenia or Nagorno Karabakh.”[3] However, Azerbaijan had shelled civilian infrastructure in in Stepanakert, Martuni, Martakert, Hadrut, Shushi and other settlements. According to the Artsakh Human Rights Defender, from September 27, 2020 to December 22, 2020, at least 60 civilians were killed – 39 of them were killed as a result of targeted strikes, 21 in captivity.[4]

While using cluster munitions,[5] a violation of international conventions and the laws of war, against the civilian population of Artsakh, Azerbaijan, without providing any evidence, accused the Armenian Armed Forces of committing such violations. For example, Hikmet Hajiyev, assistant of the President of Azerbaijan, posted on Twitter that Armenia had hit the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan gas pipeline with cluster bombs, and included photos of Israeli M095 DPICM cluster bombs as evidence. [6]  It is important to note that, though Azerbaijan had purchased such weapons from Israel, Armenian had not made such a purchase.

Azerbaijan also regularly spreads false information about the involvement of Kurdish-Syrian militants in the Artsakh Defense Army. In the beginning of the third Artsakh war, Egyptian media reported that the militants of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (KWP) had crossed the territory of Iran, from Syria to Armenia.[7],, and published an article titled “Syrian terrorists in the Armenian occupation forces” and, as evidence, included a photograph which was actually a gathering of the Nubar Ozanyan Armenian brigade in Syria in 2019.[8]  Turkish also posted on Twitter a photo of the Serbian actor, Miloš Biković, with the comment “Mercenary of Serbian origin Aleksa Djuric was spotted in Armenia…”[9] In fact, the photo was of Biković on the set of Kosare, a film where Biković played the character Aleksa Djuric.

The protection of fundamental human rights is always at the center of attention of all international bodies, howeverthe international community is indifferent to the rights of Armenians of Artsakh that have been violated. False propaganda is a phenomena, where its active implementation hinders the rights of the people of Artsakh and violates international norms and principles. To restore justice, there is a need for serious work to counter misinformation spread by propaganda with the help of reliable information and specialists.

[1] Ofelya Simonyan, Azerbaijani propaganda theses in the second Artsakh war, The Information Checking Center (14 Oct. 2020),

[2] Кямаля Сеидова, МИД Азербайджана распространил заявление в связи с обстановкой на фронте, Trend (21 Sept. 2020, 12:43 p.m.),

[3] 2020 թվականի կեղծ լուրերը ով և ինչ էր ստում, Fact Investigation Platform (5 Jan, 2021, 12:15 p.m.),

[4] Interim Report on the Cases of the Killing of Civilians in Artsakh by the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, The Republic of Artsakh Human Rights Ombudsman (27 Sept. 2021),

[5] See Armenia/Azerbaijan: Civilians must be protected from use of banned cluster bombs, Amnesty International (5 Oct. 2020),; Liz Cookman, Nagorno-Karabakh: Land still laced with mines, year after war, Aljazeera (9 Nov. 2021),

[6] Supra n. 1, Azerbaijani propaganda theses in the second Artsakh war.

[7] Id.

[8] Nubar Ozanyan Brigade is presented as a terrorist group, The Information Checking Center (2 Oct. 2020), .

[9] Turkish propaganda’s facepalm-level blunder declares Serbian ACTOR as “mercenary” in Armenia, The Information Checking Center (29 Sept. 2020),

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