The Obama administration and other Western nations have imposed economic sanctions on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea and aid to Russian separatists.
The sanctions do not specifically prohibit her involvement with the magazine. But politically, her appearance is embarrassing propaganda victory for Russia.
Aside from taking the lives of hundreds of Ukrainians and Russian separatists, the conflict also led to the downing in July of a Malaysia Airlines MH17 airliner in airspace over the former Soviet republic.
The plane is believed to have been downed by a Russian surface-to-air missile. All 298 people aboard were killed, including dozens of women and children.
Most recently, Russian tanks and troops have been seen moving into the conflict area in Eastern Ukraine to aide rebels, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied direct involvement.
Heard graces the cover of the Russian magazine, which is published under a license from Conde Nast, the U.S.-based publisher of Vanity Fair and other magazines.
The question arises whether Heard is being used as a political pawn to create the impression that relations between the U.S. and Russia are normal. In fact they are at their lowest level since the Cold War.
Heard isn’t the first celebrity to be used for political reasons. Kim Kardashian appeared on the cover of the Turkish edition of Cosmopolitan magazine the same month as Genocide Remembrance Day.
The occasion marks the years during and following World War I, when the Turks murdered millions of Armenians in a genocide that mirrors in many ways the Nazi Holocaust in World War II.
It’s unknown whether Heard was aware of the political implications of her appearance. Her reps have not returned calls.
Check out the photos below. Heard sizzles in a takeoff of another American icon, Marilyn Monroe. Let us know your thoughts and follow IM on Twitter for the latest celebrity news.