Two senators scrapped a scheduled trip to Russia after Moscow canceled a visa for fellow Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken We have a plan that prioritizes Afghanistan's women — we're just not using it Scott Brown's wife files to run for Congress MORE (D-N.H.), according to Politico.
Shaheen planned to depart for Russia on Jan. 11 along with Sens. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonLiberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol GOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes MORE (R-Wis.) and John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoInterior reverses Trump, moves BLM headquarters back to DC Lobbying world A tale of two chambers: Trump's power holds in House, wanes in Senate MORE (R-Wyo.), all three of whom sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to meet with Russian government officials.
Johnson and Barrasso canceled the trip when the Kremlin denied Shaheen's visa without explanation.
Shaheen is a tough critic of Russia, and backed a bill earlier this year that levied new sanctions against the country for its meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Shaheen also supported the State Department's move to force Russian news network RT to register as a foreign agent, following the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that the state-backed outlet could have been a part of Russia's 2016 online propaganda campaign.
She also urged Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE in a bipartisan letter this spring to meet with Russian opposition activists during a trip to Moscow in April.
An aide for the senator said she believes the Russian government blocked her travel.
"While she regrets the Kremlin decision to impede dialogue between the Senate and the Russian people, she vows to continue her work to hold the Russian government accountable for its actions that go against international norms and against the Russian people," a spokesman for Shaheen told Politico.
Johnson called Moscow's move to cancel the visa "extremely unfortunate and counterproductive to improving relations between our nations" in a statement to Politico.
All three lawmakers planned to meet with government officials and civic organizations to bolster U.S.-Russian relations.