30 House Democrats urged Biden to negotiate with Russia, a crack in support for the White House’s Ukraine strategy

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Joe Biden
Joe Biden delivers remarks on Ukraine, flanked by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley at the White House on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Washington, DC.

  • A group of liberal Democratic representatives wants Joe Biden to negotiate with Russia.
  • They say they want to avoid a prolonged conflict between Ukraine and Russia. 
  • The US has provided Ukraine with $60 billion in aid, and says it’s up to Kyiv when to negotiate. 

A group of 30 liberal Democratic representatives urged President Joe Biden to pursue negotiations with Russia to end the war in Ukraine, in the first sign of disagreement in the party over the White House’s strategy. 

In a letter to Biden, the lawmakers, led by Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, said that direct negotiations with Russia should be opened in order to avoid prolonging the war even further. 

“Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict,” the members of the House of Representatives wrote.

“For this reason, we urge you to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire,” the letter said.

The recommendation of seeking a ceasefire contradicts the current US strategy of arming Ukraine and saying publicly that Kyiv must be in charge of when and how to seek negotiations.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly rejected the idea of peace talks with Russia. Last month, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia’s attempts to annex Ukrainian land meant there was “nothing to talk about” so long as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin remained in power.

The Republicans, who have a powerful isolationist wing, may win back control of the House in the November 8 midterms, complicating the picture for sending US aid to Ukraine.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said that GOP backing for Ukraine aid is not assured, remarking recently that there would be no “blank check” for Kyiv. However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the opposite last week, pledging to support further funding.

The US has provided Ukraine with more than $60 billion in humanitarian and military aid since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion in February. 

The White House has said it is up to Ukraine when to negotiate with Russia, but some analysts believe that the US must play a proactive role in leading negotiations.

Critics of calls for peace talks say that negotiating at this stage would constitute appeasement, and point to atrocities Russia has carried out and genocidal rhetoric by Kremlin officials and Russian state media. 

After criticism of the letter from some Democrats, Jaypal released a statement saying that the letter was not intended to signal a lack of support for Biden’s position on Ukraine. 

“Let me be clear: We are united as Democrats in our unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom” she wrote. “And nothing in the letter advocates for a change in that support.” 

In a statement to Reuters, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that there was no sign the Kremlin was ready to engage in good faith negotiations. 

“Right now, we have heard from Ukrainian partners, repeatedly, that this war will only end through diplomacy and dialogue. We have not heard any reciprocal statement or refrain from Moscow that they are ready in good faith to engage in that diplomacy and dialogue,” he said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider