Marginal Revolution has a post about a new article by Harvard economist Akos Lada entitled "The Dark Side of Attraction" (abstract). Lada makes the argument that Putin invaded Ukraine because his dictatorship was threatened by the economic and political success of the more democratic Ukraine. Ukraine's comparative success highlighted to the Russian populous the lackluster economic results of Putin's government and therefore put its continuation at risk. Lada also examines three historical cases to provide additional analysis on the hypothesis about Ukraine.
F.A. Hayek, Nobel economist, made a similar point in 1960 in The Constitution of Liberty:
"The benefits of freedom are therefore not confined to the free – or, at least, a man does not benefit mainly from those aspects of freedom which he himself takes advantage of. There can be no doubt that in history unfree majorities have benefitted from the existence of free minorities and that today unfree societies benefit from what they obtain and learn from free societies. Of course the benefits we derive from the freedom of others become greater as the number of those who can exercise freedom increases. The argument for the freedom of some therefore applies to the freedom of all."
Would be interesting to know if Putin has read Hayek.
(The reference to the Hayek quote above also came from Marginal Revolution.)
Note: The success of the One Laptop per Child project in Uruguay prompted both the Brazil and Argentine governments to undertake large scale 1:1 computer learning projects. This is another example of the same kind of logic on the part of country leaders that Lada discusses.