Reacting to sanctions, Russians ban Reid, Boehner and four other lawmakers


(Associated Press)

The Russian government Thursday announced sanctions against several advisers to President Obama as well as a number of lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- retaliation after President Obama announced economic sanctions against Russia.

The sanctions ban Boehner, Reid, and Sens. Mary Landrieu, Daniel Coats, Robert Menendez, John McCain, as well as Obama advisers Caroline Atkinson, Daniel Pfeiffer and Benjamin Rhodes from entering Russia.

The announcement came after the lower house of the Russian parliament voted Thursday to admit Crimea and the metropolitan region of Sevastopol into the Russian Federation, putting some of the final procedural touches on Moscow’s controversial takeover of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

In Washington, Obama said he was ordering new sanctions against Russia in response to what he called Russia’s “illegitimate move” to annex Crimea. Not long after Obama spoke, the Russians announced the ban on these U.S. lawmakers.

Several of them responded almost immediately -- taking pride in their inclusion on the list of U.S. officials banned from Russia.

“The Speaker is proud to be included on a list of those willing to stand against Putin’s aggression," said Michael Steel, Boehner's spokesman, in a statement.

McCain, who has been outspoken in his calls for tougher action against the Russians, declared, "I'm proud to be sanctioned by Putin - I'll never cease my efforts & dedication to freedom & independence of Ukraine, which includes Crimea," in a tweet Thursday morning.

The Arizona senator later added:

“I guess this means my spring break in Siberia is off, my Gazprom stock is lost, and my secret bank account in Moscow is frozen. Nonetheless, I will never cease my efforts on behalf of the freedom, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea.”

Menendez, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, issued a statement just after noon in which he stood by his previous criticism of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

"President Putin's military invasion and annexation of Crimea is brutal, totally unacceptable, and sadly returns us to a period of Cold War aggression and hostility," Menendez said in the statement. "It doesn't have to be this way, but if standing up for the Ukrainian people, their freedom, their hard earned democracy, and sovereignty means I'm sanctioned by Putin, so be it."

Coats injected some humor into his response, and also said that he would continue his efforts to "bring Putin to his senses."

“While I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to go on vacation with my family in Siberia this summer, I am honored to be on this list. Putin’s recent aggression is unacceptable, and America must join with our European allies to isolate and punish Russia,” Coats said in a statement.

Wesley Lowery is a national reporter covering law enforcement and justice for the Washington Post. He previously covered Congress and national politics.
Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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