The war over Nagorno Karabakh in 2020 resulted in significant territorial losses for the Armenian side and the stationing of Russian peacekeepers. How has this significant weakening of their position affected the relationship between the leaders of Nagorno Karabakh and their Armenian patron? And how has it affected their relationship with Russia, which now provides a security guarantee for Nagorno Karabakh, as it already did for Armenia?

Patron states have played a crucial role in the creation of most de facto states: by supporting the military victory that ensured their de facto independence and by aiding their subsequent state-building efforts. But what happens following defeats, when the prospect of external self-determination appears increasingly remote? How is the relationship between client, patron and potential new patron renegotiated?

Nina Caspersen is Professor of Politics and Head of Department at the University of York, UK.