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Konstantin Sonin: “Why did Putin invade Ukraine? A theory of degenerate autocracy”

On December 14, 2022, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE) invited Professor Konstantin Sonin, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, for a seminar discussion about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, non-democratic regimes and degenerate autocracy. In case you missed the event, watch the recordings to learn more about the research paper.

Paper presented in the seminar

Title: Why did Putin invade Ukraine? A theory of degenerate autocracy

Author: Konstantin Sonin, John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy


Many, if not most, personalistic dictatorships end up with a disastrous, suicidal decision such as Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union, Hirohito’s government launching a war against the United States, or Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Even if the disastrous decision is not ultimately fatal for the regime such as Mao’s Big Leap Forward or the Pol Pot’s collectivization drive, they typically involve monumental miscalculation and lack of competence. We offer a theory of non-democratic regimes, in which the need for regime security dictates, in difficult circumstances, replacement of technocrats by incompetent loyalists, leading, in turn, to disastrous decisions.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in events, policy briefs, working papers and other publications are those of the authors and/or speakers; they do not necessarily reflect those of SITE, the FREE Network and its research institutes.

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