Why Sean Penn And Ben Stiller Have Been Banned From Russia

When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the United States and NATO allies responded by imposing a number of sanctions against the former USSR, including a ban on the delivery of luxury goods from the U.K. and the EU to Russia, sanctions on members of the Russian regime, and a U.S. ban on Russian oil. "We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy," U.S. President Joe Biden said in a White House press briefing. "That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports and the American people will deal another powerful blow to [President Vladimir] Putin."

The U.S. also sanctioned several Russian citizens, including Vladimir Putin's two adult daughters. As a result, Russia imposed its own sanctions on several American officials, prohibiting them from traveling to Russia. While the list includes President Biden, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA Director William Burns, and others (per CNN), there are also people outside of the government on the ban list, including Hunter Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "I want to thank the Russian Academy for this Lifetime Achievement Award," Clinton quipped in a response that sent Twitter into a tizzy.

But Putin didn't stop there, banning 25 additional Americans from stepping foot in Russia — including two Hollywood heavyweights.

Sean Penn and Ben Stiller were banned for speaking out against the war in Ukraine

Russia has banned an additional 25 people from entering the country, including actors Ben Stiller and Sean Penn. "The hostile actions of the American authorities, which continue to follow a Russophobic course, destroying bilateral ties and escalating confrontation between Russia and the United States, will continue to be resolutely rebuffed," a statement from the Russian foreign ministry read, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Penn visited Ukraine before the war to make a documentary and spoke out on Twitter against Russia after its invasion, writing that it was "a brutal mistake of lives taken and hearts broken, and if he doesn't relent, I believe Mr. Putin will have made a most horrible mistake for all of humankind." In another tweet, the Oscar winner called on world leaders to "ArmUkraineNow." 

For his part, Stiller traveled to Ukraine with the UN Refugee Agency, meeting citizens who have had to flee their homes because of Russia's attacks. "Seeking safety is a right, and it needs to be upheld for every person," he said in a video for World Refugee Day (via Twitter). 

Interestingly enough, one person who still remains off the list of people banned from coming to Russia: Donald Trump.