Staunton, June 23 – For several years now, it has been a staple of Western commentaries that Ukrainians have no right to expect that the West will be more interested in the defense of Ukraine against Russian aggression than Ukrainians are. If Ukrainians don’t take that threat as existential, they have no right to expect the West to help counter it.
Now in the wake of elections in which Nikol Pashinyan’s party won despite his break with Moscow and his failure in the war with Azerbaijan, a Russian-Armenian commentator, Gevorg Mirzayan, argues something similar. He says that “Putin can’t be more Armenians than the Armenians themselves” (vz.ru/opinions/2021/6/23/1105398.html).
If the Armenians chose to follow someone who has failed in the primary duty of a national leader to defend the nation, they “have made their choice,” the commentator says. They cannot expect the help of Russians or anyone else in such a situation; and consequently, the defeats they have suffered up to now are only the beginning.
Instead of worrying about the defense of Qarabagh and other critical foreign policy challenges, he says, the Armenian people showed either by their support for Pashinyan or their indifference to his return to power that they are more concerned about their cellphones and Instagram accounts than about their country.
And the Armenian diaspora has contributed to this by being more worried about gaining international recognition for the 1915 genocide than about national defense. And both the one and the other have acted as if despite this, they have the right and power to demand that Moscow back Armenia against Azerbaijan, he continues.
One might have expected that the military defeat last year would have taught the Armenians the error of their ways, especially as that nation has suffered so many defeats in the past, Mirzayan continues. But “on June 20, the Armenians demonstrated that learning from their mistakes is not for them.”
Given that Pashinyan’s ratings right before the election were below 30 percent, many in Yerevan and Moscow have talked about falsification after his party received over 50 percent of the voters in the parliamentary election. But they are wrong. What happened is that Pashinyan, a competent orator, got his supporters to the polls; and other parties didn’t get theirs.
The three-quarters of the voters who could have delivered a crushing defeat to Pashinyan and his course were too affected by indifference brought on by the globalization that has destroyed a sense of what a nation must do in order to survive in the harsh world as it now is today.
According to Mizayan, Russian journalist Dmitry Olshansky explained the situation best: “Armenians,” he said, “are tired of being Armenians, tired of being ‘a small but proud’ people … They don’t want more war, stony land and pastures. They want to go where there is Instagram, Macron and Kim Kardashiyan are” (facebook.com/spandaryan/posts/4239095609444558).
The really disturbing aspect of the Armenian vote is that it showed “the passiveness of the anti-Pashinyan electorate,” its “indifference” to the fate of the nation. Its members “live on a great or victimized past, lament the loss of Western Armenian but at the same time absolutely refuse to look to the future.”
But the Russians are not the only ones who can see this. The Turks and the Azerbaijanis can as well. They can see that Armenians aren’t ready to resist new challenges from abroad, and the Turkic world is going to present them, Mirzayan says. When it does, Armenians will be even less willing to defend themselves and they won’t have the Russian support they used to enjoy.