Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Monday that the Russian government had refused to grant him a visa to travel to Russia as part of a larger bipartisan delegation from the U.S. Congress.
"Regardless of this petty affront, I will continue to advocate a strong and resolute response to Russian aggression — and frank dialogue when possible," Johnson said.
Exactly why the Wisconsin Republican was targeted wasn't immediately clear, though Johnson has been critical of the Putin regime on a number of fronts, including Russia's occupation of Crimea, and other actions against Ukraine.
"The path Vladimir Putin has chosen for Russia is a tragedy of historic proportions," Johnson said in a written statement after his visa application was denied.
Office of GOP WI Sen Ron Johnson says “he has been denied a visa by the government of the Russian Federation to enter Russia as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation.” He “planned to speak with a range of Russian government officials..civil society organizations..”— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) August 26, 2019
In a statement, @SenRonJohnson says he was denied a visa to enter Russia. Johnson said he, "hoped direct dialogue with Russian parliamentarians could help set the stage for better future relations between [the] two nations," and calls the denial a "petty affront." pic.twitter.com/cr5wGws0gv— Victor Jacobo (@victorjacobo_) August 26, 2019
It's not the first time that Moscow has blocked American lawmakers from visiting Russia - as in late 2017, a scheduled visit to Russia by a bipartisan group of Senators was scrapped after the Russian government denied a visa for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
It was the second time this month that a lawmaker from Congress had been denied entry to another country - last week it was a pair of Democrats who were blocked from visiting Israel, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Tlaib was later granted approval so she could visit her grandmother in Palestine - but the Michigan Democrat ultimately rejected the offer, because it required her not to publicly criticize the Israeli government during the visit.
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