House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) won’t meet with Russian diplomats to discuss possible strikes on Syria. A spokesman for Boehner announced his decision on Thursday.
The Russian diplomats requested a meeting in order to lobby the US Congress against striking Syria. However, it seems the delegation may still visit the United States.
CNN reports that Boehner spokesman Michael Steel commented, “The Speaker has declined the Russian embassy’s request that he meet with the delegation.
The Russian embassy was still planning the visit as of Wednesday, which will happen next week. It is possible the meeting could proceed without Boehner, as the country asked to meet with all congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.
Russia is an ally of Syria and a major trading partner. It is also closely tied in with the Assad government. As such, the nation has repeatedly opposed any intervention in Syria’s ongoing civil war.
The news that Boehner won’t meet with Russian diplomats comes just two days after the House Speaker announced his support for President Obama’s plan to strike Syria, notes The Huffington Post.
Boehner explained of his decision, “We have enemies around the world that need to understand that we’re not going to tolerate this type of behavior.”
While some believe that Russia could have a sway on Congress if it does meet with the legislative body’s leaders, others aren’t so sure. Dick Lugar, who used to head the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “I don’t think a delegation from Russia will make any difference in terms of congressional votes.”
At the same time, it could “lead to other positive things,” including the possibility of better relations. Russia and the United States have been at odds this year. Along with their differing opinions on Syria, the countries were also divided when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was granted temporary asylum in Russia.
In response, the US canceled a planned one-on-one visit between the two countries. While John Boehner won’t be meeting with Russian diplomats, it is possible his colleagues may.