Movie tough guy Steven Seagal has spoken out to defend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea, insisting the controversial leader's military actions were "very reasonable."
Tensions in the Eastern European region were heightened earlier this month when Putin sent soldiers into the Ukrainian territory following a period of civil unrest amid calls for political change.
Crimean residents recently went to the polls to decide upon their own future, with local officials declaring the majority of votes were in favour of breaking away from the Ukraine and annexing with Russia.
Putin subsequently approved the move to reclaim Crimea as Russian territory, but his efforts have been denounced by United Nations officials, and the leaders of member states adopted a resolution on Thursday declaring the referendum illegitimate and refusing to recognize the annexation.
However, Seagal, who has become an unlikely pal of the Russian leader, insists he has nothing but support for Putin.
In a new interview with state-run newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta, the action man praises his friend as "one of the greatest living world leaders" and claims he considers the politician "a brother".
He adds, "(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".
Seagal, who was born in Michigan, insists he is very patriotic, but cannot stand by U.S. President Barack Obama and his "idiotic" foreign policy towards the Ukraine and Russia, and he wants to see the two superpowers working towards the same goal.
He adds, "It's no secret that I have Republican views and policies of President Obama does not appeal to me (sic). In many ways it is not even his fault, but the people who are in his inner circle who have views on world politics are diametrically opposed to Russia.
"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.”