You can’t say that action movie star and martial artist Steven Seagal is conflicted over the Russia Ukraine war: he has no sympathy for Ukraine and is totally behind Vladimir Putin and Russia.
He also believes he is not alone in his support of the Russian cause: “Over half of the people in America actually love Russia and love Russians and know that they’re being lied to,” Seagal said. “My father was pure Russian, and I was raised in a pure Russian household, because my mother was completely immersed in the Russian culture and she did not have parents. So I grew up with Russian culture.”
His paternal grandparents were Russian Jewish immigrants, but his mother was of Irish descent, so there may be some hyperbole in his claims of being one million percent Russian. During an interview for the Russian talk show, Let Them Talk, Seagal stated that he has paternal ancestors from the Siberian city of Vladivostok, as well as Belarus and Saint Petersburg. He stated that genetic testing determined that he has Yakut and Buryat ancestry as well.
Born in Lansing, Michigan, Seagal continued, “I grew up loving Russia and loving all of what I learned about it from a very early age. And for me, I am one million percent Russophile and one million percent Russian.”
Seagal was granted Russian citizenship on November 3, 2016; according to government spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “He was asking quite insistently and over a lengthy period to be granted citizenship.” While various media have cited Seagal and President Vladimir Putin as friends and Seagal stated that he “would like to consider [Putin] as a brother”, Putin has distanced himself from Seagal; Peskov is reported to have said: “I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s a huge fan, but he’s definitely seen some of his movies.”
Seagal was named the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for Russian-American humanitarian relations in 2018. The Order of Friendship medal this year was to celebrate Seagal’s “great contribution to the development of international cultural and humanitarian cooperation,” as Putin said.
In 2020, Seagal recorded a birthday message for Putin, saying, “Today is President Putin’s birthday. I just think that we are now living in very, very trying times. He is one of the greatest world leaders and one the greatest presidents in the world. And I am really hoping and praying that he gets the support and the love and the respect that he needs. And that all the tribulations that are going on now will be over soon, and we will be living in a world of peace.”
Seagal is totally supportive of Putin and will not believe that the dictatorial Putin bears any responsibility for “fixing the elections, or even that the Russians have that kind of technology”. He also said. “And this kind of propaganda is really a diversion…so that the people in the United States of America won’t really see what’s happening.”
The 70-year-old actor was one of six people recommended to be put under sanctions for his support of Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and for his approval of President Vladimir Putin‘s “aggressive occupation policy.”
Seagal was previously banned from Ukraine and deemed a threat to national security. Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko stated, “Putin has such a favorite pastime—former politicians, famous actors, musicians—to involve in his propaganda. He gives a lot of money, and for this, he asks to promote his narratives, or put these famous people in high positions in state-owned companies in Russia”.