WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 (Reuters) – A group of liberal US Democrats have withdrawn a letter to the White House urging a negotiated settlement to the war in Ukraine, the group’s chair, Democratic Representative Pramila Jayapal, said. , Tuesday after a backlash from within. party.
“The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine,” Jayapal said in a statement. She added: “The letter was drafted several months ago, but has unfortunately been released by the staff without verification.”
The letter signed by 30 caucus members went public Monday, throwing some other Democrats by surprise just two weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, which will determine which political party controls Congress. And it seemed just as Republicans were concerned that their party might cut the military and humanitarian aid that has aided Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.
Several members of the Progressive Caucus have made statements expressing their support for Ukraine, noting that they had joined other Democrats in voting for billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine.
Some said they signed the letter months before and things had changed. “Timing in diplomacy is everything. I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today,” Representative Sara Jacobs said on Twitter.
Representative Jamie Raskin, who also signed, said in a statement he was pleased to hear it had been withdrawn, noting “the unfortunate timing and other flaws”.
Ukrainian forces are conducting a successful counter-offensive, with troops advancing into the Russian-occupied Kherson province and threatening a major defeat for Moscow.
The letter immediately withdrew, including from the Progressive Caucus. “Russia does not recognize diplomacy, only strength. If we want Ukraine to continue as a free and democratic country that it is, we must support their struggle,” Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego, a caucus member, said in a written comment.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House’s top Republican, told Punchbowl News in an interview this month that there would be no “blank check” for Ukraine if Republicans took over. That fueled speculation that Republicans would cut aid to Kiev, although many members of the party said that was not their intention.
In her statement retracting the letter, Jayapal said that due to timing, the letter was merged as equivalent to McCarthy’s comment.
“Nothing is less true. Every war ends with diplomacy, and it will after Ukraine’s victory. their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this point and we are withdrawing the letter,” Jayapal’s statement said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said both Democrats and Republicans support Ukraine’s support and he doesn’t think the letter calls into question US support.
“Over the past few days, we’ve heard from the Democrats, we’ve heard from the Republicans, that they understand the need to stand behind Ukraine, to stand for the principles at play here,” he told a news conference.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.