Thu Feb 11, 2016 10:20AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on Nov. 16, 2015.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Antalya, Turkey on Nov. 16, 2015.

Russia says Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is scheduled to visit Moscow in the middle of March following the kingdom's signal that it is prepared to deploy troops in Syria.

Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that the visit is planned for “mid-March."

Ushakov added that an agenda for the visit has yet to be set.

The announcement comes as Saudi Arabia, a staunch supporter of the Takfiri militants operating in Syria to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, has voiced readiness to participate in any ground incursion in Syria if the US-led coalition decides to launch such an operation.

Saudi Arabia is already a member of the US-led coalition that has been conducting air raids inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Syrian government or a UN mandate.

The Saudi offer was condemned by Russia, with Pavel Krasheninnikov, a deputy of Russia’s State Duma, warning Riyadh that any military ground operation in Syria would amount to a declaration of war.

Syria has also warned the Persian Gulf kingdom against such a move.

“Let no one think they can attack Syria or violate its sovereignty because I assure you any aggressor will return to their country in a wooden coffin,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said last week. 

Damascus accuses Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar of funding and arming terrorist groups operating inside the country, including Daesh.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, told RT that some Syrian opposition groups backed by Washington and Riyadh came to the Geneva peace talks with “absolutely non-negotiable” stances.

Zakharova also dismissed as groundless accusations made by some Western politicians and media outlets that Russia is trying to undermine the UN-brokered talks.

“None of our partners, colleagues have presented us with any documents which prove their positions” despite requests for concrete evidence backing their claims, she added.

Zakharova stressed that Russian efforts were behind the launch of the peace process in Geneva.

“We are the country and the side which is very supportive of these negotiations. Actually we were the first – two or three years ago …and the only ones – who insisted on pushing forward negotiations between Damascus and the opposition. We gathered and organized conferences of Syrian opposition in Moscow twice,” she said.