In the wake of heavy political tension recently plaguing Ukraine, Putin sent troops to the predominantly Russian-speaking Crimea
arguing that it was to protect Russia's assets. With the support of a referendum in which the people of Crimea reportedly voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia, Putin approved annexing the territory despite pressure from the west.
Though the United States has officially taken a stance against Putin's decision, Seagal came to the Russian president's defense, arguing in an interview with the Russian government newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta
that Putin's "desire to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the military base in Sevastopol … is very reasonable."
According to sources, Seagal has established a strong acquaintanceship with the Russian leader dating at least as far back as last year when Seagal was quoted as saying about Putin: "I would like to think I know him well. But I know him well enough to know that he is one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader alive."
According to the Moscow Times
, Putin and Seagal have a common interest in martial arts, and as the aging action hero is still quite popular in Russia, Putin has used Seagal's image to promote a Russian physical fitness initiative called “Ready for Labor and Defense,”
which encourages Russians to take up regular physical training.
When later asked about the U.S., Seagal dismissed the Obama Administration's policy
on Ukraine as "idiotic."
"It's no secret that I have Republican views and policies of President Obama do not appeal to me. ...In my opinion, a situation where the U.S. and Russia are on opposite sides of the fence is abnormal. And I see my task is to do everything to facilitate the normalization of relations. All will benefit from this.”