Ukrainian officials say they are “shocked” by a letter progressive Democratic lawmakers sent to President Biden – and quickly withdrew – asking to directly engage Russia to come up with a peace deal to end the war in Ukraine.
Members of Ukraine’s Parliament expressed their dissatisfaction to Fox News after learning about the letter, which said that while the House members “agree with the Administration’s perspective that it is not America’s place to pressure Ukraine’s government regarding sovereign decisions,” they also “believe 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.”
“I was shocked and I was very disappointed to see that, because Ukraine is not the one who started the war. So we are not the ones to be telling to end this war,” MP Sasha Ustinova said about the letter. “I would like every lawmaker suggesting that to come over to Ukraine and talk to the people who escaped from the occupied territories, who were tortured, were raped, whose relatives were killed, and sometimes children, and tell them that we somehow have to give up half of the Ukrainian territory.”
Soon after the letter was sent, Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., walked it back. She said the letter in question was drafted months ago and was not properly vetted before its distribution by a staff member Monday.
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“It was – I wouldn’t say a political mistake – but it was not a careful move,” MP Oleksandr Merezhko said.
Jayapal said that while she accepts responsibility for the letter’s distribution, she wanted to make clear it does not mean Democrats support pulling the plug on aid to Ukraine.
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“Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over,” she said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Ustinova recognized Jayapal’s retraction and noted its significance, saying that “for a politician to come out and say I was I did a mistake is something very powerful.”
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House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said last week that if Republicans win control of the House in the upcoming midterm elections, they will not issue a “blank check” for Ukraine. Ustinova took issue with that, stating that the money is not going directly to Ukraine but to new military equipment for the U.S., as old weapons go to Ukraine.
“This was your own stocks that you had been replacing,” she said.
Fox News’s Caitlin McFall and Kelly Phares contributed to this report.