President Vladimir Putin during an annual press conference on Dec. 18, 2014 in Moscow.
Konstantin Zavrazhin—Getty Images
By Tessa Berenson
February 5, 2015

A 2008 study from a Pentagon think tank claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin has Asperger’s syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder.

While the researchers can’t prove their theory without a brain scan, Brenda Connors, an expert in movement pattern analysis at the U.S. Naval War College, says that Putin’s “neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy,” according to USA Today.

Stephen Porges, a University of North Carolina psychiatry professor, says in the study that “Putin carries a form of autism.” But USA Today reports that he has since retreated from the conclusion, saying he had never seen the finished report and “would back off saying he has Asperger’s.”

Whether or not the Russian leader is actually on the autistic spectrum, the authors of the study have determined the most effective way to deal with his personality type. “If you need to do things with him, you don’t want to be in a big state affair but more of one-on-one situation someplace somewhere quiet,” says Porges.

Obama, take note.

Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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