A group of progressive lawmakers urged President Joe Biden to rethink his administration’s strategy in Ukraine, writing in a letter on Monday that it is “America’s responsibility to pursue every diplomatic avenue” to reach a ceasefire.
“We agree with the Administration’s perspective that it is not America’s place to pressure Ukraine’s government regarding sovereign decisions, and with the principle you have enunciated that there should be ‘nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,’” 30 Democratic lawmakers wrote in the letter.
“But as legislators responsible for the expenditure of tens of billions of U.S. 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, including direct engagement with Russia, to reduce harm and support Ukraine in achieving a peaceful settlement.”
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New pressure from the left flank of the Democratic Party comes after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Punchbowl News last week that a Republican Congress could be less likely to shell out tens of billions of dollars worth of military support for Ukraine.
“I think people are going to be sitting in a recession, and they’re not going to write a blank check to Ukraine,” McCarthy told the news outlet.
The Biden administration has sent more than $18 billion worth of direct military assistance to Ukraine, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, tactical vehicles, and small arms.
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Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said Monday that the GOP wants to be more fiscally responsible with the aid that is sent to Ukraine.
“No one in Republican leadership has called for an end to aid for Ukraine,” Turner told reporters. “People on the Republican side are saying, ‘Why do we have to pass a $40 billion package to send $8 billion to Ukraine?’”
Biden has emphasized that Ukraine should determine how and when any peace talks take place, a sentiment echoed by other Western leaders.
The president and Russian President Vladimir Putin will both be at the G20 summit in Indonesia next month, though Biden has said he won’t seek a face-to-face meeting.
“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him, but look, if he came to me at the G20 and said, ‘I want to talk about the release of Griner,’ I would meet with him, but that would depend,” Biden told CNN earlier this month.