A pair of Republican senators condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to outlaw the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families.
Putin signed the ban into law on Friday. The new ban also covers families who have begun the adoption process.
"I am incredibly saddened and outraged that Russia is using orphaned children who desperately need homes, especially the 46 who have already been paired with their adoptive American families, as political pawns," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said in a statement.
"I’m deeply concerned by President Putin’s announcement that he will sign the ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans, and urge the Obama administration to forcefully condemn this action," Rubio said in a statement. "Over the last decade, tens of thousands of loving American couples have adopted Russian orphans, providing unconditional love, support and a quality of life otherwise unimaginable in Russia’s crowded orphanages.
"In addition to helping thousands of families, these international adoptions have brought our two nations’ people closer together and served as a symbol of our growing friendship. Now, President Putin’s adoption ban will not just deprive thousands of Russian orphans of a better life, but will cast further doubt on his commitment to human rights," Rubio continued. "The Obama administration should make clear that we will not tolerate orphaned children being treated as political pawns."
The new law, approved decisively by Russia's upper parliamentary chamber on Wednesday, takes effect on Tuesday.
The ban is considered a response to a bill Obama signed on Dec. 14 called the Magnitsky Act, which bars Russian citizens from coming to the United States or owning certain U.S. assets if those citizens have been accused of human rights violations. The Obama administration expressed opposition to the Magnitsky Act but legislators supportive of the bill attached it to a Russian trade bill also moving through Congress.
U.S. officials have warned that the new adoption ban is likely to increase tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
"The United States is concerned by measures in the bill passed in the Russian Duma today that, if it becomes law, would halt inter-country adoptions between the United States and Russia and would restrict the ability of Russian civil society organizations to work with American partners," U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said before the ban was signed into law according to CNN.