Progressive Democratic legislators this week called on the Biden White House to seek a negotiated settlement in Ukraine, a move that could put significant pressure on the president to seek ways to bring the conflict to an end without Ukraine technically winning the war against Russia.
A Peace Deal on Ukraine: Liberals Want It
On Monday, 30 Democratic members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the Biden White House urging the president to change his strategy of providing a seemingly limitless supply of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine and to instead pursue an agreement between the two countries.
“Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict,” the letter reads.
The House Democrats then requested that the president pair continued military and economic support for Ukraine “with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.”
The news is significant for several reasons; not only might the letter be the beginning of politicians’ rethinking the strategy of arming Ukraine to the teeth, but it could also change the way the issue is discussed in the mainstream press. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was slammed in the mainstream press for publishing his thoughts on a negotiated settlement between Ukraine and Russia.
Musk was accused of everything from supporting Russia to being an actual Russian asset, and was even criticized by Ukrainian government officials in response. With progressive Democrats urging the president to consider his options, however, that media narrative could soon change.
Progressives and Conservatives United on Ukraine?
Historically anti-war, progressive Democrats have remained supportive of the White House’s efforts to arm Ukraine until Russian forces are defeated. With the November midterm elections on the way, a cost-of-living crisis, and a recession on the cards, however, the far left of the Democratic Party may now be looking for ways to minimize losses in the House and Senate.
Many high-profile Republicans have pushed for tighter controls on the United States’ funding for Ukraine, and with polls showing the GOP on track to take back at least one chamber of Congress this year, Democrats could be positioning themselves to align with these proposals.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be doing something similar, too. Rejecting claims by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that a Republican-controlled House would mean no “blank check” to Ukraine, Pelosi said that support for Ukraine is “bipartisan” and that the Democrats are not handing over too much.
“Someone made a statement of we’re not giving a blank check to Ukraine. We’ve never given a blank check to Ukraine,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference in Croatia on Monday. “Ukrainians have dealt with any assistance we have given them, and I’m sure you have given them, with great integrity, with great compliance, with great accountability, and with great transparency.”
Rather than looking to work with the Republicans on this issue – a tactic that could put pressure on the White House to seriously consider diplomacy as an option – Democrats instead appear to be refuting claims that the aid to Ukraine is too much and reminding voters that many Republicans back the military aid to Ukraine as well.
Governing Democrats may be wise to listen to the progressive wing of the party on this occasion, though, with a new poll suggesting that American voters are growing tired of the United States’ continued military aid for Ukraine. According to the survey by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and Data for Progress, 57 percent of likely voters somewhat or strongly support the United States pursuing diplomatic negotiations as soon as possible to bring the war to an end.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.