Stick to U.S. policy on Ukraine

Sending any signal that Vladimir Putin just has to wait things out — that America and its partners will tire of the war, and that if he’s patient, he’ll get a chance to call the shots to his liking — is a slap in the face to the coalition and to Ukraine.

SHARE Stick to U.S. policy on Ukraine
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus, attends an event on heart health for South Asians, at the Capitol in Washington, July 28. Caucus members retracted a letter sent to the White House urging a shift in Biden’s Ukraine policy.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus, attends an event on heart health for South Asians, at the Capitol in Washington, July 28. Caucus members retracted a letter sent to the White House urging a shift in Biden’s Ukraine policy.

Scott Applewhite/AP

On Monday, a letter signed by 30 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus was sent to the White House, urging President Joe Biden to rethink U.S. policy regarding Ukraine and begin negotiating directly with Russia to end the war.

That was a big mistake. The U.S. pulled together a large coalition to support Ukraine against Vladimir Putin’s aggression, and after eight months, Ukraine shows no sign of folding in its fight for freedom. Sending any signal that Putin just has to wait things out — that America and its partners will tire of it all, and that if he’s patient, he’ll get a chance to call the shots to his liking — is a slap in the face to the coalition and to Ukraine.

Yet that’s the dangerous message the letter has sent, no matter what the caucus says about “withdrawing” the letter, as happened on Tuesday.

Editorial

Editorial

Caucus members were rightly criticized for the letter itself and for the timing of its release, right before the Nov. 8 election that could put U.S. aid to Ukraine in serious jeopardy.

The caucus also appears bumbling, after chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., blamed staff for releasing the letter “without vetting.”

Throwing people under the bus doesn’t help.

Besides, a staffer sends a crucial letter to the president, months after it was written, and the bosses don’t know about it? And take until the next day to “withdraw” it?

Yeah, that makes sense.

The takeaway from it all: Stick to the current policy.

The idea of two superpowers deciding what Ukraine’s borders should be, or what its future should look like, is concerning. That concept has worked out very badly so often in the past — the Middle East, where borders were drawn by the British and French after World War 1, quickly comes to mind.

And there’s a good reason for the saying that foreign policy debates stop at the shore of the United States. When different groups openly push their own policy views, it can serve to weaken America’s stance.

The letter (whose co-signers include Illinois Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Marie Newman) states that it is “America’s responsibility” to pursue a diplomatic end to the war, with “incentives” to end hostilities.

Let’s be clear: It’s Russia’s responsibility to get out of Ukraine, whether Putin gets “incentives” or not.

The possibility that the war could grind on for months, with ripple effects across the globe, is very real. But that’s not America’s fault. Or Ukraine’s.

The blame lies squarely with Putin.

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