Many of the questions around Russia's invasion of Ukraine have been framed in terms of Putin's mindset and ambitions. Is this the right way to view the conflict, or are we missing the bigger picture?

Dan speaks with political theorist, Ben Studebaker, about how Putin maintains power via a mix of patronage and intimidation of Russia's military and business elites, how Ukraine's quest for democratization posed a direct threat to this order, and why - to Putin - this war is literally life or death.

You can listen to the full episode via the player below, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or via other podcast players here.