Steven Seagal was a guest analyst on the June 22 edition of “International Panorama,” a weekend talk show on Russia’s state-owned Rossiya-24 channel. The host introduced Seagal as a “Russian actor of American descent” and asked Seagal to explain his “deep ties with Vladimir Putin.”
International Panorama is a TV program first aired in 1969, that became one of the Soviet Union’s main informational weapons against the United States during the Cold war. The program survived throughout the years without even changing its theme music, and in many respects the show remains unchanged from 49 years ago.
“I am a Russian citizen since 2016. My father was an ethnic Russian from Vladivostok, Baikal, Irkutsk, Yakutiya,” Seagal said.Then the actor said President Vladimir Putin is a “personal friend” due to their mutual love for martial arts.
When the host asked about Russia’s foreign policy and how it is reflected on Russia’s international reputation, Seagal first said he “wants to stay away from politics.” However, Seagal went on to say he would do everything in his power to improve U.S.-Russian relations, adding that there is no reason for the bilateral relationship not to be “great.” He then praised Putin for pursuing a foreign policy aimed at “fixing” the “imbalance of power” that has been “confusing” the world since the “collapse of the USSR.”
“I am sure that President Putin… is trying to create a situation, in which the balance of power is more stable, and a little more logical and predictable,” the actor said.
Seagal’s interview with the Info Wars Alex Jones (in which he claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin has defeated ISIS) translated into Russian and published on YouTube channel belonging to a group positioning themselves as Russian nationalist.
The Polygraph.info verdict on Seagal’s claim is “misleading,” since policy is always open to some degree of interpretation.However, let’s look at the facts.
Since 2014, Putin has faced international criticism and Russia has endured sanctions for its invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in February of that year. Seagal is well aware of those actions, as he performed at a concert celebrating the annexation in the Crimean city of Sevastopol in August 2014.
In addition to the annexation of Crimea, Putin also instigated a war in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced many more. The so-called “pro-Russian rebels” receive ammunition, financing, supplies, and training from Russia’s Defense Ministry and intelligence agencies.
Russia’s intervention in Syria emboldened the regime of Bashar al-Assad, allowing it to prolong the war by launching offensives to retake Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta, and most recently, Daraa. During this time there have been three documented chemical attacks on civilians.
Russia’s military has also been involved in a number of other incidents since 2014, typically violations of the airspace of neighboring countries. One study found 39 such incidents in 2014 alone.
U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, although President Donald Trump tweeted as recently as this week that Russia has said it “has nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!”
Seagal applied for and was granted Russian citizenship in 2016, and Putin personally presented Seagal with his new Russian passport in the Kremlin.
“I hope this will be yet another step, albeit small, probably a sign of normalization of our interstate relationships,” Putin said, offering Seagal his pen to sign the passport.
The Russian leader might have placed his hope in a wrong celebrity. Seagal’s reputation in the country of his birth is not spotless. What is more, his political influence in the United States seems non-existent, although last year he weighed in against professional American football players protesting treatment of African Americans by the police, and was quoted by a conservative newspaper.
The actor faces accusations by two women of rape and assault, which have been covered extensively in the mainstream Western media as well as the Hollywood press.
Polygraph.info attempted to reach a talent agency that lists Seagal as a client, and a lawyer who has been quoted in recent news stories, but received no reply.
Seagal’s grandparents came to the U.S. from Russia. The actor himself was born in Lansing, Michigan.