He was in Kyiv on Monday evening when he learned of US Representative Pramila Jayapal’s return on foot. controversial letter urging President Joe Biden to negotiate directly with Russia to end the war in Ukraine.
“It was shocking to me. I couldn’t believe when I read this letter. I honestly didn’t expect something like this from Democrats, especially Jayapal,” said Oleg Pynda , Executive Director of Washington Ukrainian Community Centerbased in Seattle.
“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 interest of Ukraine, the United States and the world to avoid protracted conflict,” reads in part the letter, signed by 30 liberals from the Democratic House. “For this reason, we urge you to combine the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubled efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire. “
Jayapal represents the 7th District, which includes most of Seattle and surrounding areas from Shoreline to Burien. Washington state is a top destination for Ukrainians, with about 7,500 arriving by mid-summer, according to state estimates.
Just days ago, Oleg and his son, Artur Pynda, flew from Seattle to Warsaw and then took a train to the Ukrainian capital, carrying suitcases loaded with drones he described as “sophisticated and not easy to buy”. Also with them: 56 iPads, first aid kits and other supplies for soldiers on the front line against the Russian invasion.
He also said he had $60,000 in funds donated on a credit card to buy even more supplies.
Pynda said that in March he met Jayapal, “and she was very supportive.” A photo shows them smiling together.
And now there is the letter.
“You never negotiate with terrorists,” he said.
In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that he do not negotiate with Russia as long as President Vladimir Putin is in power.
The letter, published days before the November midterms, “was a direct error,” said Andrew Villeneuve, founder of the Redmond-based company. North West Progressive Institute. Jayapal, first elected in 2016, is in her third term and does not face a serious challenge in the upcoming elections.
Tuesday, one day after The Washington Post reported that Jayapal, chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, published the letter, a number of Democrats said they signed it in June – when it was drafted – but wouldn’t sign it now.
“Timing in diplomacy is everything,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., who signed the letter, tweeted tuesday. “I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today. We must continue to support Ukraine economically and militarily to give it the leverage it needs to end this war.
Among the 705 replies to the tweet was one from RoadTrippingCat: “Let the Democrats/Progressives enter circular firing squad formation 2 weeks before what is perhaps the most important election in the history of our democracy. Is this self-sabotage inevitably instinctive?
On Tuesday, Jayapal posted A declaration saying she was withdrawing the letter.
Jayapal said the letter “was unfortunately released by staff without verification.”
When asked how such a letter escaped, Jayapal’s office replied in an email that “we do not comment on internal processes.”
Her office also said that Jayapal was “reaching out to the Ukrainian community” and that she “stands unequivocally with Ukraine and remains steadfast in her commitment to defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and defend against Putin’s illegal invasion”.
A story Tuesday at Politics said, “A source close to the situation told POLITICO that Jayapal personally approved the letter’s release on Monday.”
In his statement, Jayapal said, “Due to the timing, our message is confused by some to be equivalent to the Republican leader’s recent statement. [Kevin] McCarthy threatens to end aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over. . . Nothing could be further from the truth. Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one too after the Ukrainian victory.
Villeneuve said of the letter, “It was a bad idea four months ago, and it’s a bad idea now.”
Speaking of Jayapal, he said, “When you aspire to leadership, anything matters. You are evaluated on your judgment in critical moments.
Another Ukrainian American, Irene Danysh, spoke via Facebook from Lviv, near the Polish border. She traveled from Burien to an educational nonprofit in Ukraine.
On July 29, she wrote an op-ed for the Seattle Times title“As a Ukrainian American, I have seen with my own eyes why Putin needs to be stopped.”
She wrote: “But I wonder if Americans realize what it will cost the United States if Putin takes over Ukraine. If Putin succeeds in taking over Ukraine by force, do we really think he will stop there?
On the call from Lviv, Danysh said: “I really respect Pramila Jayapal. She’s my MP. It’s tempting for people who love peace to think that anything is possible.
But, Danysh added, “There is no way in the world that Putin is negotiating. No way he’s coming to the table if he thinks he can win. He would just laugh if we went for this idea of trying to negotiate.
Longtime Seattle political consultant Ron Dotzauer said of the letter, “What were they thinking? A few days before the legislative elections, there is this whole fringe of Republicans who, for years, have said that the Democrats are soft on defense. It plays directly into this angle.
Of Jayapal removing the letter, he said, “Someone must have squeezed it.”
Jayapal won 85% of the vote in the Aug. 2 primary.
The Ukrainian letter fiasco, Dotzauer said, “isn’t going to hurt him in terms of his constituency.”
Regarding Jayapal’s biggest political aspirations, he said, “It has the potential to marginalize her in a way. This is not the leadership you want right now.
In Ukraine, delivering drones and iPads, Oleg Pynda said: “I think quite a few people called her. I would have called if I was in Seattle.