Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., stated Tuesday that the Russian government rejected his application for obtaining a visa — a day after Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., announced that Russia had denied him a visa request.
“While I’ve been a tough critic of the Kremlin, I also believe it’s important to maintain dialogue especially during moments of tension,” Murphy said in a statement. “As the owners of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals with the capacity to destroy each other many times over, we have a responsibility to keep the world safe and prevent conflict between the U.S. and Russia.”
“Unfortunately, the Russian government is further isolating their country by blocking our visit and several others in recent months. With the collapse of recent arms control agreements and significant domestic opposition to Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule, this is potentially a perilous moment for our two nations’ fragile relationship, and it’s a shame that Russia isn’t interested in dialogue,” Murphy added.
Neither Murphy nor Johnson, who chairs the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, disclosed when the planned bipartisan trip to Russia was set to take place, or whether other lawmakers had been granted visas.
The two senators, who both sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are known as fierce critics of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Russian aggression in its sphere of influence — especially in regard to Moscow’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its attempts at interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“The path Vladimir Putin has chosen for Russia is a tragedy of historic proportions,” Johnson said in a statement on Monday.
“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,” he added.
The visa denials come on the heels of last weekend’s G-7 summit in France, where Russia was one of the major topics of discussion among the world leaders.