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US senators blacklisted in Russia say they’ll visit Ukraine, the Balkans

Sen. Christopher Murphy at the 50th Munich Security Conference 2014. ( Marc Müller/Munich Security Conference/Released)
September 03, 2019

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Two U.S. lawmakers who Russia says are banned from entering the country say they will still join the same congressional delegation that is going to the country but just visit Ukraine, Serbia, and Kosovo.

Senator Chris Murphy (Democrat-Connecticut) tweeted that “Russia wouldn’t let us in, but [Senator] Ron Johnson (Republican-Wisconsin) and I will be visiting Ukraine, Serbia, and Kosovo this week to demonstrate bipartisan support for the new Ukrainian government and continued dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.”

Ron Johnson is co-chairman of the Ukraine Caucus, a group of lawmakers who meet to pursue common legislative objectives.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists on August 28 that the list was established in response to the United States’ “unfounded restrictions against a significant number of members of the Federation Council,” Russia’s upper house of parliament.

Murphy and Johnson, who are vocal Kremlin critics, in late August said Russia had denied them visas to visit the country.

In a post on his website on August 27, Murphy, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Russia’s move a “shame that Russia isn’t interested in dialogue” at “potentially a perilous moment for our two nations’ fragile relationship.”

The previous day, Johnson said in a statement that “the path [President] Vladimir Putin has chosen for Russia is a tragedy of historic proportions.”

The Russian Embassy in Washington called Johnson “Russophobic.”

Relations between Russia and the United States have been severely strained over a variety of issues including Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, its alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election, and its involvement in Syria’s civil war.