Vladimir Putin accused the United States of plotting world domination in a major speech Saturday with only one prominent American in attendance — Steven Seagal.
The 63-year-old star of 1980s and 1990s action films such as Hard To Kill, Out For Justice and Under Siege attended Russia’s massive 70th anniversary celebration of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, even as United States government officials and dignitaries boycotted the proceedings en masse.
Seagal counts himself as a personal friend of the Russian president, and has described Putin as “one of the greatest world leaders, if not the greatest world leader alive.”
While U.S. President Barack Obama, along with most other western world leaders and governments, snubbed the parade and ceremonies in Moscow’s Red Square Saturday — attended by an estimated 300,000 people — Seagal was there as a private citizen.
But Seagal and Putin have bonded over their mutual enthusiasm for physical fitness, and Seagal has previously appeared in Russia to promote Putin’s “Ready For Labor and Defense” national fitness program.
In fact, Putin recently asked the U.S. to recognize Seagal as an “honorary consul of Russia” who would serve as “a potential intermediary between the White House and the Kremlin.”
The White House, unsurprisingly, was not keen on the idea, but that did not stop Seagal from making the trip to Moscow yet again for the World War II commemoration ceremony.
Among the world leaders who did attend the ceremony and stood at Putin’s side were Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Cuba’s Raul Castro and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
But in addition to Obama’s boycott, leaders of European countries — most of them allies of Russia in World War II in the fight against the Nazis — stayed away in protest of Russia’s support for anti-government rebels in neighboring Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine between those rebels and the government has killed more than 6,000 people in a brutal conflict that has lasted more than a year.
But at the Saturday festivities, with those political leaders as well as Steven Seagal looking on, Putin delivered an address in which he accused the United States of “attempts to create a unipolar world.”
The phrase “unipolar world” has long been used by Russian leaders to condemn what they characterize as American attempts to dominate world affairs and eliminate all opposition to U.S. policy.
The World War II commemoration at which Vladimir Putin spoke and Steven Seagal found himself in the crowd, is an especially meaningful one for Russians, 70 percent of whom say they lost a family member during the war. The then-Soviet Union suffered more than 25 million fatalities in World War II, compared to just over 400,000 for the United States.
[Image: Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images]