“Radically rational.” That’s one way of putting it…

This was the phrase used by former French President François Hollande when talking about Vladimir Putin and his itchy imperial trigger finger.

In an interview with POLITICO, Emmanuel Macron’s predecessor in the Elysée said that the Russian leader was betting on Western support for Ukraine tailing off and for a settlement beneficial to Russia being negotiated.

“[Putin] is a radically rational person, or a rationally radical person, if you will,” he said. “He’s got his own reasoning and within that framework, he’s ready to use force. He’s only able to understand the [power] dynamic that we’re able to set up against him.”

It’s an interesting take. Hollande knows what he’s talking about. He has extensive experience dealing with the Russian leader face-to-face during his time in office from 2012 to 2017 – most notably during the failed Normandy Format negotiations after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Hollande held back from criticising Macron’s attempts to reason with Putin before the war broke out. It made sense to do so, to “deprive him of any arguments or pretexts,” he said.

Hollande’s comments come after Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian PM and the EU’s Brexit boss during negotiations, offered his own quirky interpretation of geopolitics.

“A united Europe certainly on defence matters would make an enormous difference,” Verhofstadt said. “I think maybe that without Brexit, maybe there was no invasion. I don’t know.”

Radically rational? Judge for yourself.

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