A Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was denied a visa request as part of an upcoming congressional trip to Russia.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., released a statement Monday evening regarding the matter, saying the Russian government is playing "diplomatic games" by denying him an entrance pass.
After blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia's military moves against Ukraine, and other issues, Johnson said, "Eventually, a new generation of leaders will emerge in Russia. Working with [U.S.] Ambassador [Jon] 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."
Johnson serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation. During his trip to Russia, he planned to meet with several Russian officials, American businesses, and other stakeholders to discuss a host of issues related to Russia and its future.
Johnson has also supported several pieces of legislation that targeted Russian aggression in the region.
Russia fired back early Tuesday, saying Johnson never applied for a visa at the Russian embassy. The statement also called on the U.S. to remove travel bans on Russian lawmakers.
The visa flap comes on the heels of another one involving two congresswomen. Israel recently denied entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. Both have made critical statements about Israel and have even been accused of using anti-Semitic language.
Israel later said Tlaib could visit her grandmother in the West Bank, but she decided not to go.
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