Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone to great lengths to demonstrate his virility and, by proxy, that of his nation. The former KGB officer has ridden horses shirtless, pumped and forged iron, skied, arm-wrestled, driven race cars, chased whales — and, of course, invaded Crimea.

And it was in that formerly autonomous region that Putin offered his latest display of derring-do on Tuesday, descending to the depths of the Black Sea to take a peek at a 1,000-year-old sunken trading vessel.

“It’s great, there are lots of objects, amphorae scattered around,” Putin told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after the dive, as the Associated Press reported. He added: “Big hug!”

Vladimir Putin: His many feats of strength

ShareShare
Russia's President Vladimir Putin skis in the mountain Laura Cross Country and Biathlon Centre near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on January 3, 2014. Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympics that start on February 7, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ POOL/ ALEXEI NIKOLSKYALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images (ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

This was no modest trip beneath the waves, but a mission more than 270 feet down into the heart of Davy Jones’s locker.

“Eighty-three meters [272 feet] is a pretty substantial depth,” Putin said after the dive, as Agence France-Presse reported. “It was interesting.”

Although Putin’s he-man stunts might seem ridiculous in the West, they’re quite popular domestically in Russia. Voters — almost 90 percent of them, according to AFP — like having a virile president, particularly those with Soviet memories of a wheezing series of leaders who lasted from the mid-1960s until the mid-’80s. Sure, Nikita Khrushchev may have banged shoes and put Sputnik in orbit, but did he blithely descend into the briny deep in a territory he recently occupied just to play Indiana Jones — as, not incidentally, the world worries about Russian submarines and Cold War aggression in Northern Europe?

“It is a galleon that was transporting civilian cargo through the bay of Balaclava,” Putin said. “It is still to be investigated by experts. I have to say that there are not that many similar remains like this in the north of the Black Sea.”

Watch Putin descend:

Michael Birnbaum contributed to this report.