Introducing public choice in international relations: the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Trantidis, Aris (2024) Introducing public choice in international relations: the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice . ISSN 2515-6918

Full content URL:

Introducing public choice in international relations: the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Author's Accepted Manuscript

Request a copy
[img] PDF
Trantidis. Introducing Public Choice IR.pdf - Whole Document
Restricted to Repository staff only

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


With this article, I present a public choice perspective on Russia’s war on Ukraine. I criticise the realist view according to which Russia’s security concerns, defined by President Putin, prompted the conflict. I argue that realism offers a deficient analytic framework to the extent that it disregards the political and economic structure of Russia and, generally speaking, how the political economy of each case study shapes preferences, strategies and intra-elite relations, which feed into foreign policy formation. Russia is a government-controlled economy and society; a key property of Russia’s political economy is the dependency of key socio-economic actors and groups on the regime’s survival. This landscape pre-empts the expression of genuine feedback and dissent from society, and explains why Putin’s decision has faced very little disagreement and resistance. Given the previously close economic ties between Russia and Ukraine, this article also challenges capitalist peace theory for its blanket assertion that dense economic relations would provide a strong disincentive for countries to resort to war. Instead of talking about capitalism generically, we can discern varieties of capitalism, as they condition state–society relations differently. In Russia, the value that key socio-economic elites assign to their relationship with Putin outweighs the costs they are experiencing from the conflict and the external sanctions. Developing a public choice perspective in the study of international relations focuses on the preferences and strategies of the leadership and of domestic elite-level actors within the aggressor state, and invites attention to the power asymmetries that characterise their relationship.

Keywords:Russia, War in Ukraine, Public Choice and International Relations, Capitalist peace theory, foreign policy analysis
Subjects:L Social studies > L252 War & Peace studies
L Social studies > L243 Politics of a specific country/region
L Social studies > L250 International Relations
L Social studies > L220 Political Systems
L Social studies > L200 Politics
L Social studies > L221 Autocracy
L Social studies > L171 Capitalism
L Social studies > L222 Democracy
L Social studies > L240 International Politics
L Social studies > L223 Plutocracy
L Social studies > L251 Strategic studies
Divisions:COLLEGE OF ARTS, SOCIAL SCIENCES AND HUMANITIES > School of Social & Political Sciences
Related URLs:
ID Code:55735
Deposited On:14 Aug 2023 11:01

Repository Staff Only: item control page