Russia Banned A Random Group of American Politicians From Coming to Russia

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Bad news for Sen. Mary Landrieu, "Harry Reed," and Sen. Dick Durbin's mother: Russia has released a list of nine Americans who are prohibited from travel to the country, and Landrieu and Reed made the cut. Durbin, to his likely chagrin, did not.

So here's who is banned during Phase One of Cold War Two:

  • Caroline Atkinson, deputy assistant to President Obama
  • Dan Pfeiffer, assistant to Obama
  • Ben Rhodes, assistant to Obama
  • Harry Reed, not anyone in Congress, but they probably meant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. (Let he who writes in perfect Cyrillic cast the first stone.)
  • John Boehner, Speaker of the House
  • Robert Menendez, senator from New Jersey
  • Mary Landrieu, senator from Louisiana
  • John McCain, senator from Arizona
  • Dan Coats, senator from Indiana

It's an unusual group, to say the least. McCain, who'd worried that he might not be included on the list, is pleased to make an appearance. But Landrieu may be happier: running for reelection in a deep red state, being designated one of the nine-most threatening people to our once-and-always Russian enemies will make for a nice TV ad.

But why Landrieu, Coats, and Menendez? Why not Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who could certainly use his own boost in his upcoming reelection? Landrieu is from a fossil-fuel-heavy state and has harangued Putin on the issue of adoption. Coats wrote a letter asking that Russia be kicked out of the World Cup, but he wasn't alone in doing so. He also called Putin a bully, which one would think Putin would wear with honor. Anyway, if there's method to this, it's not immediately obvious.

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Those who were banned are excited about it. Menendez deployed his tactical hashtags: "If standing up for #democracy & sovereignty in #Ukraine means I'm #SanctionedByPutin, I'll take it." Boehner said he was "Proud to be included on a list of those willing to stand against Putin’s aggression." Boehner's spokesman congratulated Pfieffer.

Poor Durbin, though. When he was first reported to be a possible candidate for a ban, the Illinois senator said that his "Lithuanian-born mother would be proud her son made Vladimir Putin’s American enemies list." Someday!

A statement from the country's Foreign Ministry, translated by Zerohedge, doesn't offer much more detail about what the ban means.

"We have repeatedly warned that the use of sanctions instruments [are double-edged] … However, the U.S. side, it seems, continues to blindly believe in the efficacy of these methods taken from the arsenal of the past, and do not want to admit the obvious: the inhabitants of Crimea democratically in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter voted for reunification with Russia, respect and accept this choice."

If you have any insight into how this group was selected, don't hesitate to let us know. And if your name is Harold Reed, you might want to postpone your Crimean getaway.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.