Putting Putin in his place: A dictator at war – Faculty Q&A with Dan Slater

March 4, 2022

Contact: Fernanda Pires, fpires@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—Russian President Vladimir Putin has the world on edge.

“Research in political science teaches us that dictators like Putin are especially likely to be belligerent against their neighbors,” said Dan Slater, professor of political science at the University of Michigan, and faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies. “But this war is not in Russia’s national interest in any meaningful way. Nobody is threatening Russia’s territorial integrity or even questioning it.

“Crippling economic sanctions are going to make the Russian economy scream. We can only hope that concerted outside pressure will make Putin eventually reconsider his current course and refrain from further aggressions, gradually allowing Russia to regain its rightful leading place in the community of nations, which Putin has now so tragically squandered.”

Slater, a specialist in the politics and history of enduring dictatorships and emerging democracies, shares insights on the challenges to negotiate with Putin and how dictators think.

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