BORIS Johnson thinks the war in Ukraine is about “toxic masculinity”. He told reporters at the G7 that, “If Putin had been a women I don’t think he would have embarked on a crazy macho war of invasion and violence”.

Mr Johnson rivals David Brent in his ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. The PM managed to sound both patronising and sexist even as he tried to curry favour with the women’s vote.

Catherine the Great of Russia was one of the greatest military expansionists in history. She invaded countries at the drop of a fan.

In the 18th Century, she occupied the very territories in Crimea, Ukraine and Belarus that Vladimir Putin has been seeking to annex. He even refers to her “Great Russia” in his speeches.

Margaret Thatcher looked great on a tank and would have laughed in the face of anyone in her cabinet who dared to talk about “toxic masculinity”.

Now you may say that the Falklands war was not a “crazy macho invasion of violence” but Argentinians might not agree.

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What the PM was echoing, in his typically inept way, is the chivalrous trope that women are somehow not tough enough, not aggressive enough. That there is some kind of lady gene that makes them too compassionate, kind and considerate to go to war. This is sexist nonsense.

Britain has had a number of tough cookies since Boudicca took on the Romans. Elizabeth 1 of England took on Spain. Queen Victoria oversaw Britain’s often violent imperial expansion.

The late Israeli PM Golda Meir, the original “Iron Lady”, expanded the Israeli state by military means. Aung San Suu Kyi fell from grace over the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar. Madame Mao was as great a monster as her husband.

Surely no one seriously believes that women are so weak and feeble that they can’t become military leaders. There is no reason therefore to suppose that women are less likely to invade countries than men.

With his penchant for topless PR images, Putin may seem like a throwback to a macho style of manhood. But in a way so is Boris Johnson with his multiple affairs and indeterminate number of offspring.

The point about Putin is not his sex but that he is an elective dictator. He has violated international law and engaged in near genocide because, like Adolph Hitler, he is not subject democratic control.

There haven’t been many female dictators in modern times, largely because women have been excluded from extreme political movements until relatively recently. But they can behave just as as aggressively as men.

The Kremlin has crushed political opposition, abolished press freedom and persecuted dissident voices. Through government propaganda, the Russian people are given a distorted image of Russia being bullied by big bad NATO. He has brought war to Europe, economic destruction to his own country and, ironically, breathed life into NATO itself.

Putin’s lack of a womb has nothing to do with it.