‘Psychopath’ Putin is primed to press nuclear button after tragedy of childhood abuse

His comments come as a leading weapons expert warned the Russian leader could resort to deploying tactical nukes to help turn the tide of the war in Ukraine. James Fallon is an American neuroscientist and one of the world’s leading authorities on psychopaths, criminals and dictators. The 74-year-old has spent years studying the minds and personalities of despots of countries such as North Korea, Belarus and in particular Russia.

The University of California professor has devoted ten years of his life trying to get inside the mind of the Russian despot and help others understand his motivations and behaviour.

His work is much admired by both the Pentagon and CIA, who are using his research to help them in their dealings with Putin.

In an interview with the media outlet abc.es, Mr Fallon said he had identified in the Russian president most of the characteristics of a psychopath, adding he was one of the most dangerous he had come across.

Those characteristics were forged by childhood traumas that included alleged sexual abuse.

The neuroscientist claimed Ukrainians were now paying the price of Putin’s desire to avenge his past humiliations.

He said: “The fact is that he has this terrible past as an illegitimate child who, at least three sources have revealed to me, was constantly bullied from a very early age and even sexually abused.”

The professor continued: “The man is settling accounts with the world for what he suffered as a child.

“Now he is the bully. And bullies, like psychopaths, need victims.

“British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, a pacifist, was the perfect victim for Hitler.

“‘Let’s use diplomacy and we’ll convince him,’ he said. But in the face of a predator you cannot be weak. He crushes you.”

Mr Fallon said that Putin decided to attack Ukraine in February precisely because he saw both Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden as being weak.

At the same time he did not perceive any strong leaders in Europe who would be willing to stand up to him.

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He said: “Putin thought: ‘Zelensky is just a TV comedian’. But he was wrong. Everybody was wrong about him.

“In the United States we had Reagan. Actor. They didn’t take him seriously either and, look, he ended the USSR and won the Cold War.”

It comes as a top weapons expert told Express.co.uk that the Russian leader could deploy his nuclear arsenal to help him win the war in Ukraine.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said: “The biggest concern is perhaps the use or direct threat of use of a tactical [or] battlefield nuclear weapon.

“If things are still going so badly on May 9, which is likely, Putin could decide that a nuke is the only way to change the shape of the war.”