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We need direct talks with Russia and a negotiated settlement | Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Barbara Lee, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and others

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you with gratitude for your commitment to Ukraine’s legitimate struggle against Russia’s war of aggression. Your support for the self-defense of an independent, sovereign, and democratic state has been supported by Congress, including through various military, economic, and humanitarian aid assignments to advance this cause. Your administration’s policy was essential in enabling the people of Ukraine, through their courageous struggles and heroic sacrifices, to inflict a historic military defeat on Russia, forcing Russia to drastically reduce the declared objectives of the invasion.

Basically, you achieved this while saying that it is imperative to avoid a direct military conflict with Russia, which would lead to “World War III, something we must strive to prevent”. The risk of the use of nuclear weapons is estimated to be higher today than at any time since the height of the Cold War. Given the catastrophic possibilities of nuclear escalation and miscalculation, which only increase as this war drags on, we agree with your goal of avoiding direct military conflict as as a top national security priority.

Given the destruction this war creates for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interest of Ukraine, the United States and the world to avoid protracted conflict. For this reason, we urge you to combine the military and economic support that the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubled efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire. This is consistent with your acknowledgment that “there is going to have to be a negotiated settlement here”, and your concern that Vladimir Putin “doesn’t have a way out right now, and I’m trying to understand what we do about it”. ”.

We are under no illusions about the difficulties in engaging Russia, given its outrageous and illegal invasion of Ukraine and its decision to proceed with further illegal annexations of Ukrainian territory. However, if there is a way to end the war while preserving a free and independent Ukraine, it is America’s responsibility to pursue all diplomatic channels to support such a solution acceptable to the Ukrainian people. Such a framework would likely include incentives to end hostilities, including some form of sanctions relief, and would bring the international community together to establish security guarantees for a free and independent Ukraine that are acceptable to all parties, in particular the Ukrainians. The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its certainties and its catastrophic and unknowable risks.

The invasion of Russia has caused incalculable damage to the Ukrainian people, resulting in the deaths of countless thousands of civilians, Ukrainian soldiers and the displacement of 13 million people, while the recent capture of cities in the east of the Ukraine by Russia led to the most crucial moment of the conflict. and the consolidation of Russian control over approximately 20% of Ukrainian territory. The conflict threatens tens of millions more people around the world, as soaring prices of wheat, fertilizer and fuel trigger acute crises of hunger and poverty around the world. A war that is allowed to continue for years – which could grow in intensity and geographic scope – threatens to displace, kill and impoverish many more Ukrainians while causing hunger, poverty and death in the world. The conflict has also contributed to rising gasoline and food prices in the country, fueling inflation and high oil prices for Americans in recent months. Economists believe that if the situation in Ukraine stabilizes, some of the speculative concerns leading to higher fuel prices will subside and will likely lead to lower global oil prices.

We agree with the administration’s view that it is not for the United States to pressure the Ukrainian government regarding sovereign decisions, and with the principle you have stated that it should not be “nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine”. But as legislators responsible for spending tens of billions of American taxpayer dollars in military assistance in the conflict, we believe that 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 damage and help Ukraine reach a peaceful settlement.

In May, President Zelensky, despite deadlocked negotiations, reaffirmed that the war “will definitely end only through diplomacy”, and had previously explained that “everyone in good mental health always chooses the diplomatic path, because she knows: even if it is difficult, it can prevent the loss of thousands, tens of thousands… and perhaps even millions of lives.

In conclusion, we urge you to exert vigorous diplomatic efforts in favor of a negotiated settlement and a ceasefire, to engage in direct talks with Russia, to explore the prospects for a new European security agreement acceptable to all parties, that will enable a sovereign and independent Ukraine, and, in coordination with our Ukrainian partners, seek an early end to the conflict and reiterate that goal as the top priority of the United States.

Pramila Jayapal, Congresswoman

Earl Blumenauer, Congressman

Cori Bush, Congressman

Jesús G “Chuy” García, Congressman

Raúl M Grijalva, Member of Congress

Sara Jacobs, Congresswoman

Congressman Ro Khanna

Barbara Lee, Congresswoman

Ilhan Omar, Congressman

Ayanna Pressley, Congresswoman

Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresswoman

Mark Pocan, Congressman

Nydia M Velázquez, Member of Congress

Gwen S Moore, Congresswoman

Yvette D Clarke, Congresswoman

Henry C “Hank” Johnson, Jr, Congressman

Congressman Rashida Tlaib

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman

Mondaire Jones, Congressman

Peter A DeFazio, Congressman

Congressman Jamaal Bowman

Marie Newman, Congresswoman

Alma S Adams, Congressman

Chellie Pingree, Congresswoman

Jamie Raskin, Congressman

Bonnie Watson Coleman, Congresswoman

Mark Takano, Congressman

André Carson, Member of Congress

Donald M Payne, Jr, Congressman

Mark DeSaulnier, Congressman


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