On Tuesday, a coalition of progressive Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives announced that it would be withdrawing its letter to Joe Biden calling for the White House to lead peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.
As reported by Axios, the move comes just one day after the group of 30 lawmakers first released the letter, with signatories including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). The sudden about-face appeared to be the result of backlash against the lawmakers, who suggested that negotiations between Russia and Ukraine might be the only option left for bringing about an end to the war that has now been raging for eight months.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, released a statement claiming that the letter had originally been written “several months ago,” and that it was “released by staff without vetting.”
“As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” Jayapal added. “Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory,”
The letter initially caused backlash from fellow congressional Democrats. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) openly disagreed with the letter, saying that the Russian invasion of Ukraine “has to be resisted.” Congressman Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said that “the suggestion that we make concessions on behalf of Ukraine is presumptuous, out of touch, and would only embolden Putin.”
Despite the rapid flip-flop by House Democrats, some commentators have also suggested the possibility of negotiations as an “off-ramp” for bringing the war to an end, as there is currently no end in sight to the fighting. Russia, which first invaded Ukraine in late February, recently annexed four eastern territories of Ukraine after those areas, the populations of which are ethnic Russians, allegedly held referendums in favor of joining Russia.
Several House progressives have begun facing backlash from their far-left bases over their support for past aid bills to Ukraine. Ocasio-Cortez has seen two of her town hall events in her home district disrupted by protesters who called out her support for the Ukraine aid, with various protesters accusing her of sending aid to “Ukrainian Nazis,” and provoking a possible nuclear war.