House Speaker John Boehner (R- Ohio) has denied a request from Russian diplomats to meet with them to discuss influencing Congress to undercut President Barack Obama's plans for a military strike on Syria, CNN reported on Wednesday.
Boehner was not the only congressional leader approached by Russian diplomats. A Russian embassy spokesman told CNN that they have reached out to Republican and Democratic members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. Those who accept would meet with members of the Russian parliament sometime next week. It is unclear if anyone has agreed to a meeting.
On Tuesday, Boehner publicly announced that he is backing Obama's decision.
"I believe my colleagues should support this call for action," Boehner said after meeting with Obama and key congressional leaders. "We have enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior."
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would be "utter nonsense" for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons, and that he's convinced the attack was "nothing more than a provocation by those who want to drag other countries into the Syrian conflict."
Dick Lugar, the former head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that a meeting with Russian delegates could prove fruitful, in spite of "sour" relations between members of Congress and the Russian parliament.
“I don’t think a delegation from Russia will make any difference in terms of congressional votes,” he said. “But at the same time there may be the possibility that dialogue could lead to other positive things.”