The Kremlin has dismissed reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin asked U.S. counterpart Barack Obama to appoint action star Steven Seagal as an intermediary between the White House and the Kremlin.
Putin reportedly asked for Seagal to be appointed an honorary Russia consul in the U.S. states of California and Arizona during a G8 summit in northern Ireland two years ago, BuzzFeed reported Monday, citing unnamed U.S. officials who attended the meeting.
The June summit— held months before violence erupted in Ukraine in February 2014 and Russia's annexation of Crimea a month later — was fraught with tension over U.S. plans to arm opposition fighters in Syria, a move that Russia staunchly opposed.
Putin told Obama that “Seagal, the martial artist turned washed-up action hero, was just the man to pull U.S.-Russia relations back from the brink,” BuzzFeed reported, citing four unnamed current and former U.S. officials.
“Our reaction was, ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’” one of the officials was cited as saying.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday dismissed the report, telling journalists that it had been very much exaggerated.
“There is a lot of exaggerated and incorrect information in this article,” Peskov was cited as saying by Interfax, while noting that “[Seagal] indeed has deep sympathy toward our country, and he has met with the president several times, and they have a good relationship.”
Seagal is a popular guest among the Russian political elite, and the U.S. martial arts star has openly expressed his support for Russia's annexation of Crimea.
In an interview with state-run newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta in March last year, Seagal called Putin "one of the great living world leaders" and said he "would like to consider him as a brother."
The action hero has dismissed reports he was planning to run for Arizona governor this year as “kind of a joke.”