(MOSCOW) — Steven Seagal has expressed his support for Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Crimea.
The action movie star called Putin “one of the great living world leaders” in a lengthy interview with Russia’s state-run newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta from the set of a film he is shooting in Romania.
In comments first noted by The Moscow Times, the country’s leading English-language newspaper, Seagal said Putin’s “desire to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the Russian Black Sea military base in Sevastopol … is very reasonable.”
The 61-year-old actor and well-known Republican also criticized U.S. policy on Ukraine as “idiotic” and said the media’s coverage of the crisis favored President Obama’s agenda.
Seagal added in the interview that he “would like to consider [Putin] as a brother.”
It’s believed that the actor and world leader became friends over their mutual love of martial arts. In the past, Seagal has dined with the Russian leader, gone with him to sporting events and attended official state functions, including one earlier this month when he helped Putin promote the revival of a Soviet-era physical fitness program.
Seagal told Rossiskaya Gazeta that he’s even open to becoming a Russian citizen, despite his love for the United States.
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Samantha Beech, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN