Tuesday, 19 November

United States senators to visit Ukraine after being barred from visiting Russia

United States Senators Christopher Scott Murphy and Ron Johnson announced their plans to visit Ukraine after both were barred from going to Moscow.

The trip is also to involve visits to Serbia and Kosovo, as the senators shared on Twitter.

In the end of August 2019, US Senators Murphy and Johnson were denied visas to Russia. They planned to visit Moscow as members of the bipartisan congressional delegation. At the same time, the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. has failed to reply to any of the senators’ requests, as reported by CBS News.

Ron Johnson is Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation. In Moscow, he was going to meet with Russia’s government officials and American businesses.

Prior to the canceled visit, both senators have criticized Russia’s president Vladimir Putin. Murphy has described himself as a “tough critic” of Russia, while Johnson said that Russia has taken "a dark turn" under Putin. "The path Vladimir Putin has chosen for Russia is a tragedy of historic proportions," he said in his earlier statement. The Russian Embassy in Washington, in turn, called Johnson "Russophobic".

"Unfortunately, the Russian government is further isolating their country by blocking our visit and several others in recent months," Murphy told American journalists.

"Russia wouldn’t let us in, but @RonJohnsonWI and I will be visiting Ukraine, Serbia, and Kosovo this week to demonstrate bipartisan support for the new Ukrainian government and continued dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. I’m in Berlin today for meetings first," he also wrote on his Twitter account.

At the same time, Russia and Serbia have rather deep connections. Some Serbian military volunteers were seen in Donbas fighting for Russia-backed separatists and Russian military forces.

For Johnson, it was his second try to visit Moscow. He and Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming were granted visas in 2017, yet they refused to visit Moscow after the third member of their delegation, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, was denied.