Russia bans hundreds of prominent Americans, 26 Canadians

The largely symbolic travel bans form part of a downward spiral in Russia’s relations with the West over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Russia has published a list of 963 leading Americans, including US President Joe Biden, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman who are now banned from entering the country.

The largely symbolic travel bans form part of a downward spiral in Russia’s relations with the West since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Those named in the new list published by the Russian foreign ministry on Saturday also include US government officials, lawmakers and other leading figures, and the move was retaliation for similar sanctions by Washington.

Freeman, who had not previously been named by Russian authorities, is accused by Moscow of having recorded a video in 2017 in which he claimed Russia was plotting against the US.

“The Russian counter-sanctions are necessary and aim to constrain the US which is trying to impose a neocolonial ‘world order’ on the rest of the planet … to change its position and recognise new geopolitical realities,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Moscow, it added, remains open to “honest dialogue” and drew a distinction between the people of the US and the authorities who are “inciting Russophobia”.

Moscow has already announced sanctions targeting many of those on the new list, in particular Biden, his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the head of the Pentagon Lloyd Austin and Zuckerberg.

The ministry also said it had banned 26 more prominent Canadians, including Sophie Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian prime minister. Russia’s new list of banned Canadians follows four days after Canada introduced a bill that will ban President Vladimir Putin and about 1,000 members of his government and military from travelling there.

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