House progressives signed a letter that encouraged negotiations to end the bloodshed. But they quickly buckled under pressure and retracted it.

by Marjorie Cohn, LA Progressive

On October 24, 30 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus signed a letter to President Joe Biden calling for “direct talks with Russia” to end the war in Ukraine. But in an alarming about-face, they withdrew the letter the next day.

The letter urged Biden “to make vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire.” It raised the possibility of “incentives to end hostilities, including some form of sanctions relief.”

Pramila Jayapal speaks from a podium before an audience

Since Russia illegally invaded Ukraine, 6,374 civilians are estimated to have been killed, including 402 children, and 9,776 people have been reported injured. The war has impacted the global economy and caused inflation, recession, and food and gas shortages.

In the letter, the congress members cited “the catastrophic possibilities of nuclear escalation and miscalculation, which only increase the longer this war continues.” Calling themselves “legislators responsible for the expenditure of tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in military assistance in the conflict,” they wrote that they believed “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.”

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