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Coats proud to be banned from Russia


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 six members of Congress and three White House aides is an apparent response to U.S. sanctions against Russia for its takeover of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

“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.”

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.

Other members of Congress whom Russia reportedly 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.

Russia also will prohibit three White House advisers from entering the country, including Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

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. Donnelly and Ayotte are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“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.”