On Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, sent a letter to President Biden on behalf of 30 liberal Democrats urging the administration to consider a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire” in Ukraine.

But on Tuesday, facing fierce blowback, she reversed course and blamed her staff for releasing the letter “without vetting.”

In the plea to Biden, the caucus wrote, “We agree with the Administration’s perspective that it is not America’s place to pressure Ukraine’s government regarding sovereign decisions, and with the principle you have enunciated that there should be ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,’” the letter said. “But 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.”

The opposition was, not altogether unpredictably, immediate.

Republican leaders have stated publicly that they plan to reconsider their support for Ukrainian military aid if they retake Congress in the coming months. Meanwhile, experts say Russian troops in Ukraine have committed war crimes under international law, and that granting the Kremlin any concessions at all, especially allowing them to keep parts of Crimea they annexed illegally, would improperly reward an outlaw regime.

“There is moral and strategic peril in sitting down with Putin too early,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted in response. “It risks legitimizing his crimes and handing over parts of Ukraine to Russia in an agreement that Putin won’t even honor. Sometimes, a bully must be shown the limits of his power before diplomacy can work.”

Rep. Jake Auchincloss, a Massachusetts Democrat who did not sign the letter, tweeted, “This letter is an olive branch to a war criminal who’s losing his war. Ukraine is on the march. Congress should be standing firmly behind @JoeBidens effective strategy, including tighter—not weaker!—sanctions.”

Jayapal’s first reaction to the backlash was to issue a public statement “reaffirming support” for Ukraine and “clarifying” her earlier call for diplomacy.

“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,” Jayapal said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jayapal did a complete 180 and withdrew Monday’s letter in its entirety. She laid the blame at the feet of unidentified staffers, claiming the missive had been sent out in error.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting,” Japayal said. “As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this. Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over.”

Jayapal said in her retraction that the “proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces.”

“The White House received the letter and the members of the administration certainly appreciate the sentiments expressed by these members of Congress,” National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby told CNN on Monday.

But, he cautioned, “When you see and you listen to his rhetoric, and you see the other things—be they atrocities, the war crimes, the airstrikes against civilian infrastructure that the Russians are committing—it’s clear Mr. Putin is in no mood to negotiate.

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House Progressive Leader Blames ‘Staff’ as She Withdraws Controversial Ukraine Letter

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25.10.2022

On Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, sent a letter to President Biden on behalf of 30 liberal Democrats urging the administration to consider a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire” in Ukraine.

But on Tuesday, facing fierce blowback, she reversed course and blamed her staff for releasing the letter “without vetting.”

In the plea to Biden, the caucus wrote, “We agree with the Administration’s perspective that it is not America’s place to pressure Ukraine’s government regarding sovereign decisions, and with the principle you have enunciated that there should be ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,’” the letter said. “But 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........

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