Democrats thrown into disarray by progressives’ call for Biden to start peace talks in Ukraine

House Progressives are going through sharp backlash from fellow Democrats after greater than two dozen liberal lawmakers penned a letter to President Biden urging him to extra assertively push for peace talks in Ukraine.

The letter, spearheaded by Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal or Washington, marked a transparent break inside the president’s Democratic Party on the technique for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s battle on Ukraine.

“This letter is an olive branch to a war criminal who’s losing his war,” Rep. Jake Auchincloss, Massachusetts Democrat, wrote on Twitter in response to the peace-talk push. “Ukraine is on the march. Congress should be standing firmly behind [President Biden’s] effective strategy, including tighter — not weaker! — sanctions.”

Sen. Christopher Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, stated the call for diplomacy dangers legitimizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There is a moral and strategic peril in sitting down with Putin too early,” he wrote on Twitter. “Sometimes, a bully must be shown the limits of his power before diplomacy can work.”

The shakeup amongst Democrats provides to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s warning final week that Congress won’t present a “blank check” for Ukraine if the GOP, as anticipated, wins the bulk in subsequent month’s midterm elections.

It additionally undermines Democrats’ assaults on what they call “Putin Republicans” for pledging extra scrutiny of Mr. Biden’s huge navy help packages to Ukraine.

Rep. Mark Pocan, the previous chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who additionally signed onto Monday’s letter, ripped the timing of the letter, which he stated was first written in July.

“I have no idea why it went out now. Bad timing,” the Wisconsin Democrat wrote on Twitter. “It was trying to get to a cease-fire & diplomacy as others were banging war drums, not criticizing Biden. I’ve supported the efforts & will continue.”

The letter, which cited the “risk of catastrophic escalation” if Mr. Biden doesn’t “redouble efforts” for a cease-fire, was signed by 30 House Democrats.

“If there is a way to end the war while preserving a free and independent Ukraine, it is America’s responsibility to pursue every diplomatic avenue to support such a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine,” the lawmakers wrote. “The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks.”

The lawmakers stated these efforts ought to embody direct talks between the U.S. and Russia to “explore prospects for a new European security arrangement acceptable to all parties” — a transfer that might sharply distinction with White House coverage of holding no negotiations “about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

In response to the letter, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby reiterated that coverage.

“We’re not going to have conversations with Russian leadership without the Ukrainians being represented, and that remains the policy and the approach,” he advised reporters. “[Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy has said that while he obviously would like to find an end to this war, he does not believe it is time now to sit down and have a negotiated settlement with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin.”

The lawmakers additionally urged Mr. Biden would have sturdy Democratic assist for help for Ukraine if he adopted their recommendation, urging the president to “pair the navy and financial assist the United States has supplied to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push.’

“As legislators responsible for the expenditure of tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in military assistance in the conflict, we believe such involvement in this war also creates a responsibility for the United States to seriously explore all possible avenues, including direct engagement with Russia, to reduce harm and support Ukraine in achieving a peaceful settlement,” they wrote.

The letter marked the primary indication that unanimous assist inside the Democratic Party for Mr. Biden’s Ukraine coverage might be in danger except future funds include diplomatic calls for as properly.

Following the backlash from their colleagues, Ms. Jayapal, issued a press release trying to stroll again the perceived break inside the social gathering over the president’s technique or that Democratic assist for continued help was in question.

“Let me be clear: we are united as Democrats in our unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom in the face of the illegal and outrageous Russian invasion, and nothing in the letter advocates for a change in that support,” she wrote.

“Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives — but it is just one tool,” Ms. Jayapal wrote. “As we also made explicitly clear in our letter and will continue to make clear, we support President Biden and his administration’s commitment to nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

As the backlash poured in, Rep. Mark Takano, a California Democrat and signatory to the letter, put out a press release declaring his “steadfast support of the Ukrainian people.” 

“I will continue to support appropriations to aid Ukrainian self-determination and ensure the people of Ukraine have the tools they need to protect their hard-won democracy.”

The scramble to stroll again Monday’s plea is probably going to disappoint progressive anti-war stalwarts exterior of Congress who’re historically loyal members of the progressive base.

The Progressive Democrats of America’s Foreign Policy Co-Chair Marcy Winograd praised the lawmakers’ letter however stated it didn’t go far sufficient in pushing for an finish to the battle.

“The call for a ceasefire is an important first step, and should be followed up with congressional votes to stop sending weapons to fuel a protracted war,” she stated. “The solution is not on the battlefield, but at the negotiating table.”

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