Left-wing US lawmakers on Monday urged President Joe Biden to seek a negotiated settlement with Russia to end the Ukraine war including by exploring security arrangements acceptable to both sides.
In a letter, 30 House members from Biden’s Democratic Party made clear they opposed Russia’s “outrageous and illegal invasion of Ukraine” and agreed with the White House that a settlement was up to Kyiv.
“But as legislators responsible for the expenditure of tens of billions of US taxpayer dollars in military assistance in the conflict, we believe such involvement in this war also creates a responsibility for the United States to seriously explore all possible avenues,” said the lawmakers led by Representative Pramila Jayapal, leader of the House Progressive Caucus.
They called for direct engagement with Russia to find a solution “that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.”
“Such a framework would presumably include incentives to end hostilities, including some form of sanctions relief, and bring together the international community to establish security guarantees for a free and independent Ukraine that are acceptable for all parties, particularly Ukrainians,” they wrote.
“The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, before launching the invasion on February 24, had demanded guarantees that the former Soviet republic would never join NATO, the Western military alliance.
US officials were skeptical that NATO was his real concern, noting that Ukraine had little prospect of entering the alliance, but engaged in top-level talks with Russia until the invasion.
Asked about the letter, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “Nobody wants to see this war ended more than our Ukrainian counterparts.”
“We don’t know when it will transpire, principally and solely because we have not seen any indication from the Russians that they are prepared to engage in that diplomacy and dialogue,” he told reporters.
“We have been providing our Ukrainian partners with what they need on the battlefield so that when a negotiating table emerges, they will be in the strongest possible position,” Price said.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said separately: “We’ve been very clear: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
The United States in May approved $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, leading Western efforts both to provide weapons and shore up an economy devastated by the Russian attacks.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — who had begrudgingly held out the possibility of dropping the NATO bid to avert war — has vowed to defeat the Russian invaders and to win back land they occupied.
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