Antiwar protesters

Antiwar protesters demonstrate outside of the U.S. Capitol on December 21, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Peace Campaigners Call on Congress to Resist Pressure for Further Escalation in Ukraine

"We need Congress to take a stand and push for urgent diplomatic efforts to end the war."

Peace advocates from across the United States plan to convene in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday for a lobby day during which they'll call on lawmakers to push for a ceasefire and diplomatic talks in Ukraine, as the Biden administration responds to pressure to provide the Ukrainians with fighter jets.

"We need to stop rubber-stamping tens of billions of dollars for weapons for an unwinnable proxy war between the United States and Russia," said co-organizer Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and State Department diplomat. "It's time for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over matters of war and peace, and call for negotiations, not escalation."

Days before the one-year mark of the Russian invasion, the campaigners will begin by delivering a letter to the offices of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and will then visit the offices of lawmakers who sit on the House Armed Services Committee.

Organizers say they will ask representatives to publicly call on President Joe Biden to "pursue urgent diplomatic efforts" to end the war as quickly as possible, as progressives in Congress did last October with a letter they were then forced to retract under pressure, and as Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Mark Milley also urged shortly thereafter.

They will also call on lawmakers to support legislation to end military support for the war, oppose the sending of fighter jets to Ukraine, and request a briefing by the White House on efforts to promote peace talks.

"We need to stop rubber-stamping tens of billions of dollars for weapons for an unwinnable proxy war between the United States and Russia."

The lobby day is being organized as leaders meet at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, where Western leaders in recent days said they were prepared to support Ukraine "as long as necessary," as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said.

Scholz toldCNN anchor Christiane Amanpour Friday that discussions of "when, in which month, the war will end" are "not really a very good idea."

French President Emmanuel Macron also said that France and its allies are "ready for a prolonged conflict."

The U.S. has so far declined to send fighter jets to Ukraine, but it did agree to send more than two dozen Abrams tanks to the country last month, marking "a serious escalation," according to U.K.-based group Stop the War Coalition.

Britain and France have signaled that they're open to sending fighter planes, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has requested, and a bipartisan group of American lawmakers on Friday wrote to President Joe Biden asking him to send F-16 jets.

Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the top U.S. general in Europe, told a group of U.S. legislators last week that American F-16s would help Ukraine win the war.

Doing so would necessitate either training Ukrainians to fly the planes, which could take months, or sending "volunteer [U.S.] veterans," Konstantinos Zikidis, an aerospace engineer at the Hellenic Air Force in Greece, told Al Jazeera last month.

The latter option would likely be seen by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a major escalation, wing commander Thanasis Papanikolaou told the outlet.

"The Russians will try to present that NATO is directly involved in the Ukraine war, and will threaten nuclear war," he said.

In Munich on Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris said support for supplying the Ukrainians with weapons remains high among the U.S. public, although the issue now polls at 48%, according to an Associated Press/NORC poll released last week, compared to 66% last May.

"We cannot continue to fuel a war that creates such daily suffering and risks becoming a nuclear confrontation," said Medea Benjamin, peace activist and co-founder of CodePink, ahead of the lobby day. "We need Congress to take a stand and push for urgent diplomatic efforts to end the war."

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