Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) revealed Monday that the government of Russia denied him a visa to enter the country as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation.
In a statement, Johnson said he planned to visit Russia to meet with lawmakers and business people in an effort to repair strained ties with U.S. government.
The Wisconsin Republican said:
Working with 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 is a member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chairs the panel’s subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation.
Johnson has made several pointed statements regarding Russia in the past, once warning that the country was headed for a “dark turn” under President Vladimir Putin. The senator once again took aim at Putin in announcing his visa denial:
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.
It is unclear who else is a part of the congressional delegation to Russia or when it planned to visit Russia.