Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said Monday the Russian government has denied his request for a visa to visit the country as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation trip, as he ripped into Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Johnson, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had planned to speak with Russian government officials, American businesses and civil society organizations during the visit.
“Unfortunately, Russian officials continue to play diplomatic games with this sincere effort and have denied me entrance to Russia,” Johnson, a Wisconsin senator, said in a statement. “Regardless of this petty affront, I will continue to advocate a strong and resolute response to Russian aggression — and frank dialogue when possible.”
Johnson, the chairman of his panel's Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, didn’t say when the trip was scheduled to take place, or whether other lawmakers had been granted visas. But he did not mince words when it came to Putin: “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.”
Johnson’s office, in announcing the visa denial, listed tough stances taken against Russia by the senator.
“Senator Johnson has led and supported a number of pieces of legislation that aim to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in Ukraine and its targeting of dissidents,” his office said. “Last Congress, Senator Johnson was one of the lead sponsors of legislation to rename the street in front of the Russian Embassy in Washington after dissident Boris Nemtsov, who was assassinated in 2015.”
His office also said, “In the last Congress and in the current Congress, Senator Johnson has led Senate resolutions calling for a more robust response to Russia’s aggression in the Kerch Strait in November 2018, as well as sanctions related to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.”
Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.