Russia denies visas to two U.S. senators, amid G7 tensions

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Republican and Democratic U.S. senators said Russia refused to grant them visas for a visit to Moscow next week, amid disagreement within Washington and among U.S. allies over whether the country should be readmitted to the Group of Seven.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said on Tuesday that Russia denied him a visa. Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican, said on Monday that his visa request had been denied, which he called "a petty affront."

President Donald Trump said last week it would be appropriate to let Russia return to the G7 group of advanced industrialized countries, telling reporters that former Democratic President Barack Obama had wanted Russia out of what used to be the G8 but he thought it was "much more appropriate" to include the country.

Other G7 countries have objected.

Murphy and Johnson are Senate Foreign Relations Committee members and have pushed for sanctions. Another Republican, Senator Mike Lee, was issued a visa and intended to visit Russia, a spokesman for Lee said.

"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 dialog," Murphy said in a statement.

34 PHOTOS
Melania Trump on last day of G7
See Gallery
Melania Trump on last day of G7
US President Donald Trump (L) and US First Lady Melania Trump walk toward Air Force One in Bordeaux, south-west France on August 26, 2019, after attending the annual G7 Summit in Biarritz. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) and US First Lady Melania Trump walk toward Air Force One in Bordeaux, south-west France on August 26, 2019, after attending the annual G7 Summit in Biarritz. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (R) poses with Brigitte Macron (R), wife of the French President during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) poses with Brigitte Macron, wife of the French President (2L) and others during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (L) looks towards Brigitte Macron (R), wife of the French President during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (R) looks towards Brigitte Macron, wife of the French President during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. First Lady Melania Trump (C) looks on during a meeting with surfers at the Cote des Basques beach, in Biarritz, south-western France, on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
(L/R): Brigitte Macron, wife of French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, Akie Abe, wife of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chile's First Lady Cecilia Morel, Jenny Morrison, wife of Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Malgorzata Tusk, wife of European Council President Donald Tusk and Adele Malpass, wife of World Bank President David Malpass arrive by the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz, south-western France on August 26, 2019, on the third and final day of the annual G7 summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / EPA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) European Council President's wife Malgorzata Tusk, French President's wife Brigitte Macron, Japan's Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe and US First Lady Melania Trump pose with children during a visit with the G7 leaders' spouses on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump is pictured as she meets with children at the Cote des Basques beach as part of the G7 summit, in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump is pictured as she meets with children at the Cote des Basques beach as part of the G7 summit, in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump speaks with people and children during a visit with the G7 leaders' spouses on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
French President's wife Brigitte Macron (L) and US First Lady Melania Trump meet children at the Cote des Basques beach as part of the G7 summit, in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Japan's Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe and US First Lady Melania Trump (R) pose with children at the Cote des Basques beach as part of the G7 summit, in Biarritz, France, 26 August 2019. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump meets surfers as G7 leaders' spouses watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Japan's Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe Chile's, European Council President's wife Malgorzata Tusk, French President's wife Brigitte Macron and US First Lady Melania Trump watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Australia's Prime Minister's wife Jenny Morrison, Chile's President's wife Cecilia Morel, European Council President's wife Malgorzata Tusk, Japan's Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe, French President's wife Brigitte Macron, the mayor of Biarritz Michel Veunac, US First Lady Melania Trump and President of the World Bank Group's wife Adele Malpass pose for a family picture with surfers as they watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump arrives to watch a surf class with other G7 leaders' spouses on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) Japan's Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe Chile's, European Council President's wife Malgorzata Tusk, French President's wife Brigitte Macron and US First Lady Melania Trump watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump arrives to watch a surf class with other G7 leaders' spouses on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump arrives to watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump arrives to watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
French President's wife Brigitte Macron (R) welcomes US First Lady Melania Trump (L) as she arrives to watch a surf class with other G7 leaders' spouses on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump (rear L), President of the World Bank Group's wife Adele Malpass (rear 2nd L), Australia's Prime Minister's wife Jenny Morrison (front C), French President's wife Brigitte Macron (front L), Chile's President's wife Cecilia Morel (2nd R), European Council President's wife Malgorzata Tusk (rear C) and Japan's Prime Minister's wife Akie Abe (R) arrive to watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
French President's wife Brigitte Macron (R) welcomes US First Lady Melania Trump (L) as she arrives to watch a surf class with other G7 leaders' spouses on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit. (Photo by Julien DE ROSA / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images)
US First Lady Melania Trump (2R) flanked by French President's wife Brigitte Macron (L), shakes hands with Biarritz mayor Michel Veunac as G7 leaders spouses arrive to watch a surf class on the Cote des Basques beach in Biarritz on August 26, 2019, on the third and last day of the annual G7 Summit attended by the leaders of the world's seven richest democracies, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The Russian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment. But it tweeted a statement saying Johnson had not applied for a visa at the embassy. The tweet also called Johnson "russophobic" and scoffed at his saying he wanted to restore direct dialog with Russian parliamentarians.

While it had been unusual for U.S. lawmakers to be denied travel visas, Russia has done so several times in recent years, especially those who have pushed for sanctions against Moscow over its aggression toward Ukraine and interference in U.S. elections.

And Israel this month barred two Democratic lawmakers, U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, shortly after Trump called on his ally not to let them in.

Separately, senior Democratic senators said on Tuesday they had written to Trump expressing strong opposition to readmitting Russia to the G7, citing its invasion of Crimea.

The letter was signed by Senators Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, as well as Jack Reed, Bob Menendez and Mark Warner, the top Democrats on the Armed Services, Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, respectively. (Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Richard Chang)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.