Russia Appointed Steven Seagal to Improve Relations with America

Russia's Foreign Ministry has made U.S. actor Steven Seagal its special representative for Russian-U.S. humanitarian ties. The role is meant to deepen cultural, art, and youth ties between the two countries.

Russian president Vladimir Putin gave Seagal, 66, a Russian passport in 2016. Putin said he hoped his appointment as a special representative would serve as a symbol of improving ties between Moscow and Washington, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Since 2016, relations between U.S. and Russia have chilled, with U.S. intelligence agencies accusing Moscow of interfering with the 2016 election.

The Russian Foreign Ministry compared Seagal's new role to a U.N. goodwill ambassador. In a statement released on their official Facebook page on Saturday, the Ministry said the position was "socio-political" and the actor would receive no monetary reward. Seagal sometimes appears on Russian state TV to discuss his career and his views.

"It's a case of people's diplomacy intersecting with traditional diplomacy," the ministry is reported saying by Reuters.

Russian television station RT, which is backed by the country's government, reported Seagal as saying, "I've always had a very strong desire to do all I can to help improve Russian-American relations. I have worked tirelessly in this direction for many years unofficially and I am now very grateful for the opportunity to do the same thing officially."

Seagal and Putin are close friends, according to CNN. Seagal attended Putin's swearing-in ceremony in May where he was sworn is as President for another six years.

In an interview on "Good Morning Britain" with Piers Morgan in September 2017, the actor said, "For anyone to think Vladimir Putin had anything to do with fixing the elections, or even that the Russians have that kind of technology, is stupid." He called the notion of Russian interference "propaganda" and a "diversion" to the American people.

His movies Under Siege and Sniper: Special Ops are popular with Russian audiences who admire his martial arts skills, according to Reuters.

Seagal has been accused of sexual misconduct across across his career. Most recently, two women gave a press conference in March to allege that they were both sexually assaulted by Seagal in the 90s as teenagers. Seagal has denied the allegations.

Steven Seagal's Alleged Victims
Pictured are attorney Lisa Bloom (C) and clients Faviola Dadis (L) and Regina Simons at a press conference where they accused actor Steven Seagal of sexual assault, at The Bloom Firm on March 19, 2018 in Woodland Hills, California. Seagal has been named a special representative by Russia to help U.S.-Russia humanitarian ties. Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images