A group of progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives this week sent, then retracted, a public letter urging the Biden Administration to engage in direct diplomacy with Russia to end the war in Ukraine while continuing to arm and support the government in Kyiv. The letter was signed by 30 lawmakers from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and saw an immediate and fierce backlash, as critics said it undermined Ukraine's position and downplayed Russian atrocities. Progressive Caucus chair Congressmember Pramilya Jayapal issued a retraction less than 24 hours after it was published, blaming her staff for improperly releasing it. Meanwhile, some signatories said they had signed the letter months earlier when the war was at a much different stage and that they were unaware it would be released now. Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, says ignoring diplomatic channels will only prolong the war. "The level of outrage that greeted this very careful sort of commonsense approach shows us how much work is still needed … to stop the kind of control that militarism seems to have on our assumptions about what foreign policy looks like," says Bennis.
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