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What makes this photo of US politicians in Russia so extraordinary

Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Deputy Photo Editor

Photos from a meeting between US members of Congress and Russian officials are offering a bleak vision of US politics.

A US congressional delegation was in Moscow on July 3, meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and other officials ahead of a planned summit between president Trump and Vladimir Putin. Notably absent from the delegation: any Democrats.

Though the US delegation included members of the House and Senate, all were Republicans. It’s an unusual approach for talks with a world power as important as Russia. Last year, a trip by a bipartisan delegation was cancelled after Jeanne Shaheen, a Democratic senator from New Hampshire and a critic of Russia, was denied a visa.

Coincidentally, on the same day as the US delegation’s meeting in Moscow, the bipartisan US Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. It follows a separate report from the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee that offered a less definitive conclusion.

“I asked our friends in Russia not to interfere in our elections this year,” Louisiana senator John Neely Kennedy recounted of the Moscow meeting, reports the Washington Post. Photos that emerged from the meeting show what dealing with an adversarial country looks like when only one party is welcome at the table.

AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
The US delegation on the right, with no Democrats present.
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov greets senator Richard Shelby.
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