Ben Stiller and Sean Penn banned from Russia after Ukraine comments

<span>Photograph: AP</span>
Photograph: AP

Ben Stiller and Sean Penn have been banned from entering Russia following their outspoken support of Ukraine during the ongoing invasion.

Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs released a list on Monday of 25 new names that will be excluded from the country in response to “the ever-expanding personal sanctions by the … Biden Administration against Russian citizens”. Stiller and Penn are both included, along with political figures such as senators Mark Kelly, Rick Scott and Kyrsten Sinema.

Stiller, an ambassador for UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, visited Ukraine in June, and posted a video on Instagram in solidarity with refugees of the conflict, saying: “Nobody chooses to flee their homes. Seeking safety is a right and it needs to be upheld for every person.” Stiller also met the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, telling him: “You’re my hero.”

Penn has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine and Zelenskiy, having been in the country making a documentary as the Russian invasion got under way in February. Penn later made a series of TV appearances in April to call for US solidarity with Ukraine and asked for US fighter jets to be supplied to the country. He also said he had considered joining the fight against Russia.

They join a longer list of over a thousand names of US citizens who have been sanctioned by Russia; these mostly comprise political and military figures (including President Biden and Hillary Clinton, but not Donald Trump), but also a handful of Hollywood names, including executives Jeffrey Katzenberg and Peter Cramer, film director Rob Reiner, and actor Morgan Freeman.