The speaker of Russia's national legislature said Friday that a plan to send a parliamentary delegation to Washington to try and convince U.S. lawmakers that a unilateral military intervention in Syria would be unwarranted and counterproductive had been cancelled.
Sergei Naryshkin, speaker of the State Duma, said the delegation would no longer travel to the U.S. and called the decisions by House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid totheir Russian counterparts deplorable.
Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson confirmed Thursday that Reid had turned down the offer. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said the speaker had also declined the offer.
"We are really disappointed by their decision not to meet with their Russian colleagues," said Russian Embassy spokesman Maxim Abramov on Thursday after the U.S. congressmen made their decisions public.
Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the delegation on Monday.
Meanwhile, Russia's government-linked news agencies quoted senior military officials as saying two more of the country's warships were headed for the Mediterranean, near Syria's western coast.
The RIA-Novosti agency said two ships from Russia's Black Sea Fleet, the frigate Smetlivyi and the landing ship Nicholai Filchenkov, an electronic surveillance vessel, were ready to head to the region, according to a high-ranking source in the defense ministry. Russian news agencies said at the end of August that the navy was dispatching an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean.
Russia has a military base on Syria's west coast at Tartus, and has been slowlyin the region, along with the U.S., in recent weeks.
CBS News correspondent David Martin reported that one U.S. submarine and five missile destroyers were expected to take up positions in the eastern Mediterranean -- all armed with cruise missiles. That's more than enough firepower for a hypothetical strike on Syria which Pentagon officials say would be limited to fewer than 50 targets.
The latest developments come as tensions peak between Russia and the U.S. over Syria.
Russia is a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, and hasagainst taking unilateral military action, calling instead for a unified response from the U.N. Security Council. Russia, which has used its veto power as a permanent member of the Council to block any punitive action against the Assad regime thus far, says the Obama administration should wait until the U.N. concludes its own investigations into alleged chemical weapons attacks.
The U.S., on the other hand, accused Russia on Thursday of shielding the Assad regime bywith its veto power.
The Obama administrationproving Assad's government was behind an Aug. 21 chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus which the White House says left almost 1,400 people dead. The Russian government has dismissed the American evidence as "absolutely unconvincing," and said this week it had presented its own report to the U.N. showing Syrian rebel groups have used chemical weapons during the vicious two-and-a-half year conflict.