I’ve officially been banned from setting foot in Russia. Last month, I discovered I was number 44 on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ latest list of banished Americans. Like more than 1,200 other Americans, I now stand accused of having a hand in the “promotion of the Russophobic campaign and support for the regime in Kyiv.”
Russia’s sanctions list received a lot of attention last spring, when its first 963 names included a slew of U.S. politicians, a few journalists, business executives, and at least five people who were already dead at the time of publication, including the late Sen. John McCain. But also on the list were dozens of analysts, academics, and researchers like me. Americans banned then or added to the list later also include Yale University historian Timothy Snyder, Rutgers University professor Alexander Motyl, and my RAND Corporation colleague William Courtney. Compared with nuclear threats and paralyzing economic sanctions, a list banning Americans from entry into Russia may seem like a rather inconsequential aspect of U.S.-Russian relations in the middle of a major war. Sanctions or not, I wasn’t exactly planning to spend Christmas in Novosibirsk.