BELMONT, Mass. — On Thursday, March 31, the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) held a virtual panel discussion titled “The Ukraine War and Armenia(ns): Immediate Impacts and Repercussions.”
Dr. Vicken Cheterian (History/International Relations, University of Geneva), Dr. Nerses Kopalyan (Political Science, University of Nevada – Las Vegas), and Dr. Anna Ohanyan (Political Science/International Relations, Stonehill College), served as panelists discussing the impact that the war in Ukraine is having on the Armenian world.
Introduced by NAASR director Marc Mamigonian, the panel was moderated by community activist and member of the NAASR Board of Directors, Stepan Piligian.
First to speak was Cheterian, who opened with the comment that “the Russian invasion has been full of surprises.” One surprise, at least in the minds of many in the West, was that Putin would actually make good on his threats to invade Ukraine. The assumption by key analysts and foreign policy advisers was Putin was bluffing to obtain concessions, said Cheterian, crediting President Biden as one of the few who actually took Putin at his word.
The second surprise, he said, was that while Putin has been “very meticulous” and “a strong technician” in the past who understood “the balance of forces,” the Putin who is invading Ukraine is a different man; ideological and bitter. Cheterian also noted that the Russian military performance in Ukraine has been subpar.
The Russians themselves were in for another surprise, said Cheterian; he claims they didn’t expect such a strong show of unity between the US and Europe in support of Ukraine.