20221216 Why did Putin invade Ukraine

Why Did Putin Invade Ukraine? A Theory of Degenerate Autocracy

On December 14, 2022, the 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.


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, the replacement of technocrats by incompetent loyalists, leading, in turn, to disastrous decisions.

Video Recording

In case you missed the event, watch the recordings to learn more about the research paper.