Many Russia-watchers are questioning or making light of the Foreign Ministry's surprise appointment of Steven Seagal as a special envoy for humanitarian ties with the United States — but not the action-film actor himself.
I am deeply humbled and honoured to have been appointed as a special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in charge of Russian and American Humanitarian ties.— Steven Seagal (@sseagalofficial) August 5, 2018
I hope we can strive for peace, harmony and positive results in the world.
I take this honour very seriously pic.twitter.com/LTuUxsk1aZ
Seagal, who has warm ties with President Vladimir Putin and was granted Russian citizenship in 2016, said he was "deeply humbled and honoured" by the appointment.
"I hope we can strive for peace, harmony, and positive results in the world," Seagal wrote.
Seagal, 66, starred in Hollywood action movies such as Above The Law (1988), Hard To Kill (1990), and Under Siege (1992). His films were popular in the Soviet Union and then in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics.
Seagal has vehemently defended Putin's policies, including Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, along with criticizing the U.S. government.
Steven Seagal @sseagalofficial, who is a Russian citizen, has been appointed as a special representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry @mfa_russia in charge of the 🇷🇺#RussiaUS🇺🇸 humanitarian ties— Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) August 4, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/JxYrEdqoig pic.twitter.com/9Mo6CDxLF7
Kyiv last year banned Seagal from entering Ukraine for five years, citing what it said were national security grounds.
The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said that Seagal's task will be to "foster the further development of Russian-American relations in the humanitarian sphere, including interactions in... culture, the arts, public and youth exchanges, and so forth."
The position is not paid and will be similar to the United Nations' goodwill ambassador positions, the statement said.
This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.