Vladimir Putin is not crazy but a radically rational person who is hoping that public opinion will get tired of his war against Ukraine and Europeans will fear an escalation to consolidate his gains, former French President François Hollande told POLITICO.
“He is a radically rational person, or a rationally radical person, as you like,” said the former French leader, when asked if Putin could seek to widen the conflict beyond Ukraine. “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.”
Reflecting on his time in office when he and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel led attempts to solve Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine in the Normandy Format, which resulted in the “Minsk agreement” peace treaty, Hollande acknowledged that those efforts at dialogue proved fruitless, exposing Putin as a leader who only understands strength.
Further negotiations with Putin are fruitless, Hollande contends: dialogue was possible during a “brief period of uncertainty” following the invasion, but after, “the question [about the utility of dialogue] was unfortunately settled.”
Hollande stopped short of criticizing his successor Emmanuel Macron, who in December 2022 proposed to address Russia’s needs for “security guarantees” in a new European security architecture — a proposal that came under the fierce criticism Ukraine and Eastern European countries.