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Moscow has imposed sanctions on 25 US citizens including actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, barring them from ever entering Russia. The announcement was made Monday on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website in retaliation for Joe Biden’s “ever-expanding personal sanctions against Russian citizens.

The list includes a number of high-ranking US officials, Democratic and Republican members of Congress, representatives of the business community, and “cultural figures.” Among these are Hollywood actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn, both of whom had previously visited Ukraine and held personal meetings with the country’s president Vladimir Zelensky amid the ongoing military conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

Stiller, who acts as a goodwill ambassador for the UN refugee agency, was the latest to meet with the Ukrainian leader, having traveled to Kiev back in June. During their meeting, the actor praised Zelensky as a “hero” and admired the way he had “rallied the country [and] the world.” 

The ‘Zoolander’ star also visited a Ukrainian refugee center in Poland before traveling to the western city of Lviv, as well as Irpin and Makarov, in order to bring more attention to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Sean Penn has also maintained close ties with Zelensky since Moscow launched its military operation and is currently working on a documentary about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. The 61-year-old actor initially traveled to Kiev shortly before the fighting broke out in late February to film a documentary for Vice Media about Kiev’s war against the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. 

The Oscar-winning star has so far made several trips to Ukraine and its borders, and has had two personal meetings with the Ukrainian leader. Penn has been very vocal in his support for Ukraine and has repeatedly called on the international community to send more aid to the Kiev regime. 

Moscow says its decision to blacklist the actors, as well as a number of US politicians and business figures, comes in response to “the hostile actions of US authorities, which continue to follow a Russophobic course, destroying bilateral ties and escalating confrontation between Russia and the United States.” Russia has vowed that such measures will continue to be met with equal force.

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