Putin-SmirkI got Congressman Jim Moran in trouble with President Putin of Russia.

The New York Times reported this week that Putin banned Rep. Moran from Russia as part of his response to President Obama’s announcement of additional economic sanctions. Why? Because he agreed to sponsor our amendment to the House Defense Appropriations bill that banned the Pentagon from purchasing any more weapons from the chief supplier of armaments to the Assad regime in Syria – the Russian state-owned company Rosonboroexport. The amendment passed and the prohibition became law.

Seems that we struck a nerve.

It all began when we learned that the United States was spending over $1 billion padding the pockets of the very people selling weapons to Assad. United to End Genocide members and allied organizations, including Human Rights First, jumped into action. Over 50,000 activists told Congress that it was time to take action and put a stop to this outrage.

It worked. But now the lead sponsor of the amendment has been banned from Russia. As I told Rep. Moran this week, I hope that this does not spoil plans to vacation in the Crimea!

Here’s Rep. Moran’s reaction (start at 10:23):

Alas, our work is not done. It turns out that the Pentagon does not like being told what not to do.

Last week U.S. Marine General Dunford, nominated by Obama to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps, warned that Congress’s decision to bar contracts with Rosoboronexport could be “catastrophic” for U.S. forces.

Dunford’s pleas came on the same day as the downing of a Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, killing all 259 people aboard, likely by missiles sold by the same Russian company.

With the death toll in Syria over 160,000, Russia blocking all meaningful action to stop the killing, and now with individual Members of Congress banned from travel to Russia, it is remarkable that we need to keep pushing for the U.S. to stop buying weapons of war from the arms dealer that is supplying Assad’s killing machine in Syria.

Thanks to the many thousands who stopped the Pentagon from buying weapons from Russia’s Rosonboroexport. Stay tuned – our work is apparently not finished.

Meanwhile, thank you, Rep. Jim Moran, for doing the right thing and going the extra mile, even if it means that you are now banned in Russia. Putin might see this as a punishment. I see it as a badge of honor. Congratulations!

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