Russia said on Thursday that the BRICS group of countries would be strengthened by adding new members, in its most explicit endorsement yet of the idea of expansion.

The BRICS group of emerging economies currently comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Moscow sees the group as an increasingly important and influential counterweight in global affairs to the U.S.-led West.

"Of course we believe that in one form or another, the expansion of BRICS will contribute to the further development and strengthening of this organisation," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

He was commenting on a remark by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that it was "extremely important" for Saudi Arabia to join BRICS, along with Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, if they wished to.

Peskov said Russia had constructive ties with all three countries but "we don't think we need to get ahead of ourselves" regarding specific candidate nations before the topic is discussed at a BRICS summit in South Africa on Aug. 22-24.

Strengthening BRICS forms part of Russia's vision of undermining U.S. dominance and building a new "multipolar world". It values ties with developing countries that have refrained from condemning its actions in Ukraine, and wants to increase trade with them to neutralise the effect of Western sanctions on its economy.

Russia will be represented at this month's BRICS summit by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov after President Vladimir Putin decided not to attend in person due to a warrant for his arrest issued by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Ukraine, something Moscow denies. (Reporting by Reuters Writing by Mark Trevelyan Editing by Gareth Jones)