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(WABNEWS) — More than two dozen liberal members of the House of Representatives are calling on President Joe Biden to change course on his Ukraine strategy and pursue direct diplomacy with Russia to end the months-long conflict.
In a letter sent to Biden on Monday, the group of 30 Democrats praises Biden’s efforts to date in supporting Ukraine while avoiding direct US involvement on the ground. However, they suggest that a more forceful attempt to end the war through diplomacy is necessary to avoid a long and lingering conflict.RELATED
“Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe that it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a protracted conflict,” the group writes in the letter, led by the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal.
“For this reason, we urge you to match the military and economic support that the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire,” it adds.
The letter comes at a critical moment in the war, as Russia increasingly attacks civilian infrastructure, with a particular focus on cutting off power to Ukrainian citizens before winter.
The willingness of lawmakers to maintain the massive financial and military support that has been given to Ukraine has been questioned in Congress. Some Republicans have threatened to cut aid to the country if they take control of Congress in November.
The Liberal Democrats, in their letter, said more direct attempts to engage Moscow in diplomacy were needed while the war dragged on.
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“We are under no illusions about the difficulties of Russia’s involvement, given its scandalous and illegal invasion of Ukraine and its decision to make further illegal annexations of Ukrainian territory,” the lawmakers wrote.
“However, if there is a way to end the war while preserving a free and independent Ukraine, it is the responsibility of the United States to pursue all diplomatic avenues to support that solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine,” they said.
John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said the White House had received the letter.
“We certainly appreciate the sentiments expressed by these members of Congress,” Kirby said.
“We have been working with members of Congress throughout this process, especially as we have needed additional funds to support Ukraine’s defense needs,” Kirby said. “And it’s been done in full collaboration in full transparency with members of Congress. And that’s exactly the way the president wants to continue moving forward.”
Still, Kirby said there was no indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin was willing to engage in serious diplomacy to end the war.
“When you see and hear his rhetoric, and you see the other things, whether it’s the atrocities, the war crimes, the air strikes against civilian infrastructure that the Russians are committing, it’s clear that Mr Putin is not in the mood. to negotiate,” Kirby said.
He said it will be up to Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, when the time is right to return to the negotiating table.
“Mr. Zelensky can determine when he thinks the time is right, and Mr. Zelensky can determine, because it’s his country, what success looks like, what victory looks like, and what kind of terms he’s willing to negotiate,” Kirby said. “We’re not going to dictate that.”