From Russia with love? President Putin grants Steven Seagal Russian citizenship

Russian President Vladimir Putin granted Steven Seagal citizenship at a special Kremlin ceremonyGetty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has granted US actor Steven Seagal a Russian passport in a bid to further improve the fractious relations between the two superpowers, softened by the election of Donald Trump.

The pair met face-to-face at a special ceremony at the Kremlin, where the 90s Hollywood action hero signed a passport handed to him by the Russian leader.

Upon confirming the newly bestowed citizenship with a handshake, Putin stated: "I want to congratulate you and express the hope that this is another, albeit small, gesture and it might be a sign of the gradual normalisation of relations between our countries."

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Putin, a martial arts fan, signed an order earlier this month to begin the process of granting Seagal citizenship. The actor, 64, has been a regular visitor to Russia for over a decade.

The move comes amid the most strained period of relations between the two superpowers since the end of the Cold War in 1991, with Moscow and Russia backing opposing forces in conflicts throughout Syria and Ukraine over the past two years.

There has also been evidence that Russian hackers helped leak a trove of confidential emails belonging to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee during the US general election – a move encouraged by President-elect Donald Trump.

President Putin hopes the gesture will help normalise relations with the USGetty Images

Seagal, perhaps best known for 1992's Under Siege, remains a popular figure amongst Russian audiences despite often playing the American war hero.

When Putin then asked how he was doing, the actor replied: "Everything is good. We will talk later. For now just honoured to be here," according to a Reuters report.

This is not the first time a Western celebrity will be bestowed with Russian citizenship. In 2013, Gerard Depardieu, a French actor, was also granted citizenship.

Seagal does however maintain somewhat of a unique status among nations within the Russian sphere of influence, having previously obtained Serbian citizenship after opening a martial arts school last year. He also had the special honour of being fed carrots by Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko.

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