Hollywood star Steven Seagal pushed Kremlin propaganda on a trip this week to the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, claiming that US-supplied HIMARS rockets caused the blast last month that killed more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The “Under Siege” star, who was granted Russian citizenship in 2016 and supported Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea, was seen in a video visiting Olenivka Prison — the site of the July 29 strike that left 53 jailed POWs dead and at least 75 others injured.
“This is where HIMARS hit, 50 people were killed, another 70 were injured,” Seagal said in a video posted to the pro-Kremlin Russian news site TVZVEZDA on Tuesday,
“It definitely looks like a rocket. If you look at the burning and other details, of course, it’s not a bomb. Not to mention the fact that Russia really has a lot of artifacts from HIMARS.”
In the video, the “Above the Law” star was identified as a Special Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation for Humanitarian Relations between Russia.
Speaking in English, Seagal called the slain prisoners of war “Nazis,” and suggested without any evidence that the site was destroyed on the orders of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to silence one of the inmates.
“The interesting thing is that one of the killed Nazis is a Nazi who just started talking a lot about Zelensky,” Seagal says in the video, “and that Zelensky is responsible for the orders about torture and other atrocities that violate not only the Geneva War Convention, but are also crimes against humanity.”
The brief video also showed Seagal making a show of holding purported evidence, and standing next to prison bars across from jailed Ukrainian combatants.
Russia has accused Ukraine’s military of shelling the prison with American-supplied HIMARS — a claim Kyiv has vehemently denied, in turn accusing Kremlin of carrying out the strike to cover up the murder and torture of inmates.
Russian state TV’s chief propagandist Vladimir Solovyev — dubbed “Putin’s voice” — wrote on his Telegram channel that Seagal “personally examined the evidence, including fragment of American rockets, that prove Kyiv’s connection to the mass murder of their own soldiers.”
Solovyev said the movie star also met with Ukrainian POWs, including members of the Azov Battalion who surrendered after defending Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol for two months.
Meanwhile, Denis Pushilin, the leader of the Kremlin-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, announced on his Telegram channel that Seagal was making a documentary “to change the perception on this war.”
“Steven noted that 98% of those who talk about the conflict in the media have never been here. That is why the world does not know the truth,” Pushilin stated.
Seagal’s trip to Donbas and his unsubstantiated claims about the alleged use of HIMARS in the attack on the prison come just days after US intelligence officials warned that Russia was looking to plant fabricated evidence to make it seem like Ukrainians were responsible for the carnage at Olenivka.
“We anticipate that Russian officials will try to frame the Ukrainian Armed Forces in anticipation of journalists and potential investigators visiting the site of the attack,” White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters last week.
Kirby added that Russians might even plant ammunition from actual HIMARS rockets as proof that the US-supplied systems were used in the blast.
Separately, a Western government official said explosive experts who have reviewed photos of the prison following the incident have determined that the destruction wasn’t likely caused by “a high-explosive strike from the outside” and that it was “much more likely to be incendiary and from inside the location.”
The intelligence arm of the Ukrainian defense ministry claimed to have evidence that local Kremlin-backed separatists colluded with the Russian FSB and mercenary group Wagner to mine the barrack before “using a flammable substance, which led to the rapid spread of fire in the room.”
The International Red Cross, which is responsible for the well-being of POWs at the Olenivka prison, has yet to be given access to the site of the attack.
Last week, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he will launch a fact-finding mission into the incident.
With Post Wires
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism