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Russia denies U.S. senators visas ahead of congressional visit

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said in a statement Tuesday Russia had refused to grant him a visa to visit the country as part of a bipartisan congressional delegation.

Why it matters: Murphy's statement comes a day after fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Russia had refused to grant him a visa. President Trump has been trying to press G7 members to let Russia rejoin the group, after it was disinvited in 2014 from attending the summit for annexing Crimea.

The big picture: Leading Democrats including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have sent Trump a letter to express their "strong opposition" to Russia rejoining the G7.

What they're saying: Both Murphy and Johnson have previously criticized Russia. They again lambasted Kremlin officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin after being denied visas to enter the country ahead of their planned congressional trip.

"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."
— Sen. Chris Murphy statement
  • Johnson accused Russia of playing "diplomatic games" and said the path Putin had 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."
— Sen. Ron Johnson statement

The other side: The Russian embassy tweeted that Johnson "did not apply for a visa at our Embassy and did not inform about his plans." It took issue with Murphy for similar reasons.

Go deeper: Trump says Russia is out of G7 because "Putin outsmarted Obama"