Mr. [Rand] Paul was the only lawmaker on the trip, which was financed by the Cato Institute, a leading libertarian research organization in Washington. He was accompanied by Peter Goettler, Cato's president and chief executive, and Don Huffines, a Texas state senator who was chairman of Mr. Paul's presidential campaign in the state.
Here is more about the trip and Cato's thoughts on Russia:
On Russia, the Cato Institute encourages policymakers to coordinate with leaders in Moscow on issues like nonproliferation and ending the Syrian civil war. Its policy handbook also advocates for replacing current American sanctions on Russia with ones that aim to impede the modernization of Russia's military.
Khristine Brookes, a spokeswoman from the Cato Institute, said that it did not set up the meetings with any of the Russian government officials, but it did set up meetings with other non-government organizations and booked sight-seeing trips.
Here is what the think tank's policy handbook says about US relations with Russia.