The government of Russia announced Wednesday that it is sanctioning 398 members of the House of Representatives in response to President Joe Biden’s move to sanction members of the Russian Duma.
The U.S. sanctioned 324 members of the Duma, the lower house of Russian Parliament, on March 24, as well as the body “in its entirety,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the time. The Russian government described the move as “mirroring” the U.S.’s sanctions. It added that with previous sanctions, “all US congressmen were subjected to ‘listing’ on the basis of reciprocity,” according to a translation of a release on the Foreign Ministry’s website. (RELATED: US Will Directly Sanction Putin, Russian Foreign Minister As Full Invasion Of Ukraine Continues)
Many members spoke out about the sanctions, with some joking about it.
“Moscow is cold this time of year anyway,” Democratic New York Rep. Mondaire Jones tweeted.
Moscow is cold this time of year anyway. https://t.co/jIM6ru3qIm
— Mondaire Jones (@MondaireJones) April 13, 2022
Others referenced their family histories.
“Whether it’s the Castro Regime in Cuba or Vladimir Putin’s thugs in Moscow, I wear the sanctions of authoritarian dictators as a badge of honor. I will never stop fighting for freedom and working to expose the evil and corruption of bad actors like Putin to the light of truth,” Republican Florida Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, the daughter of Cuban refugees, said in a statement.
“My family escaped the Russian pogroms of the late 19th century and were granted refuge in the United States of America. Today, 120 years later, I was sanctioned by Russia for opposing the very genocide, authoritarianism, and tyranny I promised my great-grandparents I would fight,” Democratic Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips said.
My family escaped the Russian pogroms of the late 18th century and were granted refuge in the United States of America. Today, 120 years later, I was sanctioned by Russia for opposing the very genocide, authoritarianism, and tyranny I promised my great-grandparents I would fight. pic.twitter.com/fzFFP7CfjB
— Rep. Dean Phillips 🇺🇸 (@RepDeanPhillips) April 13, 2022
“This is badge of honor, but it is laughable that Putin thinks these sanctions will even slightly deter our efforts to defeat him and support the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom. Putin is an autocratic thug and a war criminal–I’ll continue to do everything in my power to cut him and his cronies off at the knees and ensure Ukraine has the resources necessary to send Putin into retreat,” Republican Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson added.
Russia is not the first U.S. enemy to announce sanctions on American elected officials. China sanctioned six Republican members of Congress in August 2020 over their opposition to a law that took away Hong Kong’s autonomous status.
The sanctions are the latest diplomatic escalation between the two countries. Russia expelled the second-ranking U.S. official in Moscow in February ahead of its invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. expelled twelve Russia diplomats working at the country’s United Nations mission in early March, alleging that they spied under diplomatic cover.