Progressive Democrats withdraw letter asking Biden for a change in political strategy in Ukraine

US MP Pramila Jayapal withdrew a controversial letter she posted about Ukraine diplomacy after backlash from members of her Congressional Progressive Caucus, who said it was drafted months ago but sent this week without her knowledge.

“The letter was written several months ago, but unfortunately it was published by her staff without being examined. As the group’s president, I accept responsibility for it,” she said in a statement.

“The letter sent yesterday (for this Monday), although it reiterates that basic principle, has been confused with the GOP’s opposition to supporting the just defense of the national sovereignty of the Ukrainians. As such, it is a distraction at this time and we withdraw the letter,” he adds.

House Democrats bristled at Jayapal for sending a letter calling on the Biden administration to pursue Ukraine diplomacy, with many fuming publicly and privately over the fact that the progressive leader surprised them with a letter revealing new divisions within his party over the war and with the November midterm elections just days away.

“People are furious, especially frontline members,” said a senior House Democrat, referring to the most vulnerable members who are at risk of losing their seats in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

In the letter, more than two dozen liberal members of the House of Representatives called on President Joe Biden to reverse course on his Ukraine strategy and pursue direct diplomacy with Russia to end the months-long conflict. 

In the letter sent Monday, 30 Democrats praised Biden’s efforts to date in supporting Ukraine while avoiding direct US involvement on the ground. However, they suggested that a more forceful attempt to end the war through diplomacy is necessary to avoid a long and lingering conflict.

“Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe that it is in the interest of Ukraine, the United States and the world to avoid a protracted conflict,” the letter from the group led by the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal.