Wisconsin Sen. Johnson Denied Visa to Visit Russia as Part of Congressional Delegation

August 26, 2019 Updated: August 27, 2019

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said that he was denied a visa to visit Russia as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation, according to a statement on Aug. 26.

Johnson, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, said in the statement that he was visiting Russia with plans to speak to various Russian government officials, U.S. businesses, and civil society organizations.

“The path Vladimir Putin has chosen for Russia is a tragedy of historic proportions. Instead of holding free and fair elections, respecting the rule of law, and integrating Russia’s economy with Western democracies, Putin has invaded Georgia, attempted to illegally annex Crimea, conducted war in eastern Ukraine where thousands have died, and supported a barbaric regime in Syria that has used chemical weapons on its own people in a war that has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands,” the senator said.

“Eventually, a new generation of leaders will emerge in Russia. Working with Ambassador Huntsman, I had hoped direct dialogue with Russian parliamentarians could help set the stage for better future relations between our two nations.”

“Unfortunately, Russian officials continue to play diplomatic games with this sincere effort and have denied me entrance to Russia. Regardless of this petty affront, I will continue to advocate a strong and resolute response to Russian aggression—and frank dialogue when possible,” he added.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. (L) accompanied by the committee’s ranking member Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., at Capitol Hill in Washington on Sept. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The news release didn’t provide details about when the congressional delegation was scheduled to visit Russia or identify other participants of the delegation.

A spokesperson for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs said in an email statement, in response to a request for more information, that Johnson’s visit was “to be next week as part of a bipartisan delegation to several countries.”

“Further details regarding Russia had not yet been settled,” the spokesperson said. Johnson also chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs.

According to the release, Johnson has expressed support for several measures that aim to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in Ukraine and for targeting dissidents. He also led resolutions calling for a strong response against Russia’s aggression in the Kerch Strait in November 2018, and for imposing sanctions relating to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Follow Janita on Twitter: @janitakan
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