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Russia bans entry to Coats, other US officials

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., is among nine U.S. officials getting a pre-emptive boot from Russia.

The Russian government’s announcement Thursday of a travel ban on certain members of Congress and White House aides is an apparent response to U.S. sanctions against Russia for its takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The Senate recently approved a resolution introduced by Coats and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., that would penalize Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government for its incursion into Crimea. Durbin was not among the officials barred from going to Russia.

“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,” Coats said in a statement.

“Putin’s recent aggression is unacceptable, and America must join with our European allies to isolate and punish Russia. I will continue to lead efforts on Capitol Hill to bring Putin to his senses.”

Roll Call, Politico and the Associated Press reported that other members of Congress whom Russia banned from entering the country were House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu, D-La.; and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Politico reported that Russia also will prohibit three White House advisers from entering the country -- Dan Pfeiffer, Ben Rhodes and Caroline Atkinson.

Meantime, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is a member of a bipartisan congressional delegation visiting Ukraine this week, according to his office.

The delegation includes Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. Donnelly’s office said the lawmakers will meet with Ukrainian government leaders and military personnel. A visit to Israel also was planned.

No other details about the trip were released.

“In these dangerous times, it’s more important than ever that the U.S. reinforce relationships with our allies and key partners,” Ayotte said in a statement. “The challenges facing Ukraine and Israel have far-reaching consequences for our national security and peace in the world, and hearing directly from leaders there will inform my work in the Senate.”

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