The letter, sent last Thursday, called on Biden to “elevate diplomacy with Russia” and try new ways to end the conflict in Ukraine following a cease-fire between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops.
Progressive lawmakers retract letter pressing Biden to talk with Russia about Ukraine.
In response to The Washington Post’s questions about the criticism, Khanna’s office said he had dropped his support for the letter. He said he still believed engagement with Russia is essential but that it was necessary to clarify that his office saw no justification for Putin’s “occupation” of Crimea and that “we should not legitimize his actions such as those in Crimea.”
This letter was sent to President Biden by Ro Khanna, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. The three Democratic representatives from California, Minnesota, and Michigan signed a letter urging him to “elevate diplomacy with Russia” to end the Ukraine conflict.
The letter reads:
“We believe that direct negotiations between you and Russian President Vladimir Putin would be an effective way of ending this crisis,” it said.
The letter, sent last week, provoked swift pushback from senior House Armed Services Committee Democrats and prominent Ukrainian Americans, who argued it would play into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine and U.S. policy toward Moscow.
Khanna told The Hill that he had spoken with Biden’s top foreign policy adviser Colin Kahl about having similar conversations with Moscow even before the letter was drafted and signed by members of Congress late last month.
In response to The Washington Post’s questions about the criticism, Khanna’s office said he had dropped his support for the letter and that Reps also signed it. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
The lawmakers’ letter signed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and Corey Booker called for Biden to “elevate diplomacy with Russia” and try new ways to end the conflict in Ukraine following a cease-fire last summer between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops. They sent the letter days after Biden expressed support for sending lethal weapons to Ukraine during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at Davos.
“We did not anticipate that our call for negotiations would be misconstrued as a sellout of Ukraine,” Khanna told Foreign Policy on Wednesday night. “It was intended only to urge Vice President Biden not just to follow Trump’s course but also engage in dialogue with Russia.”
“Senators have sent letters to presidents and vice presidents before, but I think this has particular meaning given the context,” said Michael Cohen, a former top adviser to President Bill Clinton. The latter now works at the Brookings Institution think tank. “The letter reflects a growing desire on Capitol Hill for U.S. leadership in Europe.”
The letter called on Biden to “elevate diplomacy with Russia” and try new ways to end the conflict in Ukraine following a cease-fire last summer between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops.
The letter read: “In order to bring peace, we must first make sure that diplomacy is given every opportunity to work,” according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. The lawmakers said they were troubled by reports that the Trump administration had pulled back from implementing sanctions against the Russian Federation for its actions in Ukraine, which triggered fierce criticism from Congress and accusations that the White House was not tough enough on Moscow.