Democrats withdraw letter urging Biden to reconsider Ukraine war strategy

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The Congressional Progressive Caucus has withdrawn a letter signed by 30 House liberals and sent to the White House on Monday that urged President Biden to negotiate directly with Russia to end the war in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

The letter, led by Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), was withdrawn a day after it sparked a sharp backlash from many Democrats and Ukrainian officials. Negotiating with Russian President Vladimir Putin is unrealistic.

They also worried the letter could put more pressure on Biden, who is trying to maintain domestic support for the war effort at a time when the region is headed for a tough winter and Republicans are threatening to cut off aid to Ukraine if they withdraw from Congress. .

On Tuesday, Jayapal said the letter was drafted several months ago and “released by staff without vetting”. He also sought to distance Democrats from recent comments by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The GOP-led House recommended that it not support additional aid to Ukraine.

Jayapal said in his statement that he accepts the responsibility for this as the president of the assembly. “The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate impression that Democrats, who voted strongly and unanimously in support of every package of military, strategic and economic aid to the Ukrainian people, were somehow aligned with Republicans in support of President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces.”

Earlier, many of the letter’s signatories withdrew their support for the letter, saying it was written months ago. Late Monday, Rep. Mark Bogan (D-Wis.) appeared to agree with one critic of the letter on Twitter.

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“Listen. First, this was written in July & I don’t know why it’s out now. Bad timing,” Bogan Tweeted.

Rep. Sarah Jacobs (D-Calif.), one of the letter’s other signatories, tweeted Tuesday morning. “I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I will not sign it today. We must continue to support Ukraine economically and militarily to end this war.

In an original letter to the White House dated October 24 First reported by The Washington PostLawmakers called on Biden to “redouble his efforts to pursue an active diplomatic push to find a realistic framework for a ceasefire.”

Liberal Democrats say the war’s devastating effects are being felt far beyond Ukraine, including high food and Gas price In the U.S. and the boom in wheat, fertilizer and fuel prices created global food shortages, not to mention the risk of a nuclear strike by Moscow.

The letter was signed by some of the most prominent and outspoken liberal Democrats in Congress, Reps. Jamie Raskin (MD), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Cory Bush (Mo.), and Ro Khanna (Calif.). and Ilhan Umar (Min.).

For now, their position in the Democratic Party remains a minority. Biden has been widely supported for leading a global coalition condemning Russia and garnering massive support for Ukraine. Biden has framed the conflict as part of his broader vision that the world is witnessing a historic conflict between dictatorship and democracy.

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White House spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the administration appreciated the “very thoughtful concerns” of lawmakers, but there was no change in the administration’s strategy on Ukraine.

“We’re not going to have a dialogue with the Russian leadership without Ukrainians represented,” Kirby said during a press conference on Monday. “Mr. Zelensky decides – because it is his country – what victory looks like and when to negotiate.

Privately, some administration officials questioned the timing of the letter, which arrived two weeks ago Middle Ages Elections And a week later McCarthy said the GOP might oppose more aid to Ukraine.

Jayapal issued a statement Monday evening that “clarified” the position the progressives outlined in the letter, saying they still support Ukraine and emphasizing Biden’s commitment to ensuring Ukraine is represented in any discussions about Ukraine’s future.

“Let me be clear: We as democrats are united in supporting Ukraine in their fight for democracy and independence in the face of the illegal and outrageous Russian invasion,” Jayapal said. “Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives – but it is only a tool.”

According to three congressional aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, Democrats, including those who signed the letter over the summer, were not informed that the letter would be delivered on Monday. A person close to the progressive caucus, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said it would be strange to publicly release a letter signed by 30 of the House’s 220 Democrats.

Many blamed Jayapal for the misstep, with many aides saying they believed it would hurt his chances of winning the Democratic Party leadership. There is Jayapal Made preliminary calls He is a member of the Progressive Caucus, Rep. Kathryn M. Clark (D-Mass.) is expected to challenge Clark (D-Mass.) among some members. 2 place in the party.

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Mariana Sotomayor contributed to this report.

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