President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrive for a joint news conference after their meeting in Helsinki, July 16, 2018.
Grigory Dukor | Reuters
Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday released an updated list of nearly 1,000 Americans permanently barred from entering the country, a largely symbolic slap in response to harsh sanctions imposed by Western countries for its brutal invasion of Ukraine in February.
Biden since mid-March had already been banned from visiting Russia, as were Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But the updated list now includes Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as Biden’s scandal-plagued son Hunter Biden, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady.
The actor Morgan Freeman and billionaire investor George Soros also made the list. Soros’ philanthropic support of liberal causes, and groups in the former Soviet bloc, have made him a boogeyman for both Russia and right-wing conspiracy theorists.
Jen Psaki, who until this month served as Biden’s White House press secretary, posted a sarcastic tweet about the list Saturday evening: “I guess we will have to cancel our August family trip to Moscow…”
Trump was not on the list of 963 banned Americans.
Over the years, Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticized investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election that ended with Trump’s victory over Democratic rival Clinton.
Trump was impeached in 2019 for withholding congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine while pressuring that country’s then-newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to announce investigations into Joe Biden, who at the time was the leading Democratic candidate for the White House.
Trump was acquitted after a trial in the Senate.
On Saturday morning, in an interview with Fox News, Trump griped about the Russia probe again.
“This is one of the greatest political scandals in history,” Trump said. “Where do I get my reputation back?”
A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his omission from Russia’s travel-ban list.
Former President Barack Obama and Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, also are not on the list, but Pence’s brother, Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., is banned.
So are 211 of Greg Pence’s fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate — along with 224 Democratic members of both congressional chambers.
The GOP House members on the banned list included two hard-core, Republican Trump supporters, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Arizona’s Paul Gosar.
Also making the list are two Democratic House members whose strongly progressive policy stances are anathema to Trump World: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Minnesota’s Rep. Ilhan Omar.
So is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who this week also was banned from receiving communion by the archbishop of the San Francisco Roman Catholic Archdiocese because of her support for abortion rights.
In a statement published by Russia’s state news agency RIA, the Foreign Ministry said, “Russian counter-sanctions are of a forced nature and are aimed at forcing the ruling American regime to change its behavior” and recognize “new geopolitical realities.”
The ministry also accused the U.S. of trying to impose a neo-colonial “rules-based world order” on the rest of the world.
The ministry said “hostile actions” taken by the U.S. government “boomerang back to hit the United States itself” and “will continue to receive proper rebuffs.”
Russia also has barred entry to the country to hundreds of Canadians, among them Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and hundreds of members of the United Kingdom’s Parliament.