Democrats withdraw letter urging Biden to reconsider Ukraine war strategy


The Congressional Progressive Caucus withdrew a letter signed by 30 House liberals and sent to the White House on Monday urging President Biden to negotiate directly with Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

The withdrawal came a day after the letter was led by Rep. Rep., chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) has sparked a backlash from many Democrats, as well as Ukrainian officials, who say negotiations with Russian President Vladimir Putin are unrealistic.

They are also concerned that the letter could put more pressure on Biden as he tries to maintain domestic support for the war effort at a time when the region is entering a potentially difficult winter, with Republicans threatening to sway if They retake Congress and they will cut aid to Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Jayapal said the letter was drafted months ago and “released by staff without review.” She also sought to distance Democrats from recent comments by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who suggested the Republican-led House would not support additional aid to Ukraine.

“As chair of the caucus, I take responsibility for this,” Jayapal said in a statement. “The proximity of these statements has created an unfortunate appearance that the Democrats who strongly and unanimously support and vote for every military, strategic and economic aid package for the Ukrainian people are in a way similar to the Republicans who are trying to stop the U.S. Alignment. Support President Zelensky and the Ukrainian army.”

Earlier, several of the letter’s signatories also withdrew their support for the letter, saying it was written several months ago. Rep. later Monday. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) appeared to sympathize with critics of the letter on Twitter.

“I hear you. First off, this was written in July, I don’t know why it’s out now. Bad timing,” Pocan tweet.

“Diplomatic timing is everything,” the Rep. said. Sarah Jacobs (D-Calif.), one of the other signatories to the letter, tweeted Tuesday morning. “I signed the letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I won’t be signing it today. We must continue to support Ukraine economically and militarily to give them the leverage they need to end this war. “

In the original letter to the White House, it was dated October. On January 24, The Washington Post first reported that lawmakers called on Biden to “make an aggressive diplomatic push and redouble efforts to find a realistic framework for a ceasefire.”

Liberal Democrats point to the war’s catastrophic consequences extending far beyond Ukraine, including rising U.S. food and natural gas prices and soaring wheat, fertilizer and fuel prices leading to a global food shortage, not to mention the danger of a global food shortage. . Moscow nuclear attack.

The letter was signed by some of the most prominent and outspoken Liberal Democrats in Congress, including the House of Representatives. Jamie Raskin (Maryland), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Cori Bush (Missouri), Ro Khanna (California) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota).

For now, they remain a minority among Democrats, which overwhelmingly back Biden’s denunciation of Russia and his spearheading of a global coalition to provide Ukraine with substantial support. Biden described the conflict as part of his broader view that the world is witnessing a historic confrontation between authoritarianism and democracy.

White House spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the administration appreciated the “very well-thought-out concerns” of lawmakers, but said the administration’s strategy for Ukraine had not shifted.

“We would not have a conversation with the Russian leadership without a Ukrainian representative,” Kirby said at a briefing with reporters on Monday. “Mr. Zelensky can decide — because this is his country — what success looks like and when to negotiate.”

Privately, some administration officials have questioned the timing of the letter, which was sent two weeks before the midterm elections and a week after McCarthy said Republicans might oppose more aid to Ukraine.

Jayapal issued a statement late Monday that “clarified” the position the progressives outlined in the letter, stressing that they still support Ukraine and Biden’s pledge to ensure Ukraine is represented in any discussions about its future.

“Let me be clear: We as Democrats are united in our unequivocal commitment to support Ukraine’s fight for democracy and freedom in response to Russia’s illegal and heinous invasion,” Jayapal said. “Diplomacy can save lives. Important tool – but it’s just a tool.”

Democrats, including those who signed it over the summer, were unaware the letter would be sent Monday, according to three congressional aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue. A person close to the Progressive Caucus said it was odd that a letter from only 30 of the 220 Democrats in the House of Representatives had been released publicly.

Many blamed Jayapal for the blunder, and several aides said they believed it could hurt her chances of winning a seat in the Democratic leadership. Jayapal has made initial calls to her colleagues expressing interest in running for leadership, giving some members the impression that she will challenge the House of Representatives. Catherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), who is also a member of the Progressive Caucus, is presumed No. 1. 2 jokes at the party.

Marianna Sotomayor contributed to this report.

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