Ukraine’s trans military spokesperson Sarah Ashton-Cirillo has been suspended from his duties after saying in an outlandish online video that Ukraine would hunt down those considered to be Russian propagandists and “make them pay for their crimes.”
“Next week, the teeth of the Russian devils will gnash ever harder and their rabid mouths will foam in uncontrollable frenzy as the world will see a favorite Kremlin propagandist pay for their crimes,” Ashton-Cirillo, né Michael John Cirillo, said in the Sept. 13 video. “And this puppet of Putin is only the first,” he added. “Russia’s war criminal propagandists will all be hunted down and justice will be served.”
Ashton-Cirillo, a political operative and registered Democrat, was appointed in August to be a Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) English-language spokesperson. The appointment came after he was allegedly wounded in action while serving in the 113th Kharkiv Defense Brigade.
Last year, after a stint as a “war correspondent” and while serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) as a combat medic, Ashton-Cirillo was honored at Las Vegas city hall. The Ukraine propagandist was given certificates of recognition by US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) and former Democrat Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak.
According to the Fox 5 report below, the Smithsonian Institute also requested one of Ashton-Cirillo’s military uniforms.
The Smithsonian also wants one of his military uniforms. pic.twitter.com/7M8B84QpRI
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 20, 2023
Ashton-Cirillo’s antics caught the attention of Senator JD Vance (R-Ohio), who fired off a letter to top Biden administration officials Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines asking if the self-described “progressive activist” has ties to American intelligence services. Vance also demanded to know if U.S. funds were subsidizing Ashton-Cirillo’s apparent role in Ukraine.
“If the Ukrainians want to hire weirdos to threaten Americans and others for speaking their mind, I guess that’s their right. They shouldn’t use our tax dollars to do it,” the Ohio senator told Breitbart News.
“I’d like like the Biden administration to explain who this crazy Ukrainian spokesperson is, and whether they stand by Ukraine’s clear attack on free speech,” Vance wrote on X.
I'd like like the Biden administration to explain who this crazy Ukrainian spokesperson is, and whether they stand by Ukraine's clear attack on free speech: https://t.co/bsGZ7U8iJN
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) September 18, 2023
Ashton-Cirillo responded on X, saying: “Since the staff of @JDVance1 is keeping a close eye on my Twitter, I’d ask that the Senator kindly back the delivery of ATACMS to Ukraine, so we can end this war of Russian aggression as quickly as possible and make sure the next lost life is the last lost life of this genocide.”
“Since I’ve got your attention, are you/Ukraine still planning to kill people who engage in speech you don’t like? And are there any American citizens on the kill list?,” Vance wrote back.
Ashton-Cirillo posted another video in which he thanked X “for carrying this exclusive message from Kiev.”
Special Ukraine in the Know:
My response to Senator Vance’s letter to the US Secretaries of State and Defense and the Director of National Intelligence asking about my role in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/L6KuHgfyC5
— Sarah Ashton-Cirillo (Ukrainian TDF Media) (@SarahAshtonLV) September 18, 2023
“To everyone asking: Yes, this is real,” Vance wrote on Sept. 18. “This is the English language spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces. This same person posted a video last week threatening violence against anyone who engaged in speech the Ukrainians deemed bad propaganda. Disgusting.”
Vance appeared on Fox News Tuesday evening to discuss the contretemps with host Jesse Watters.
“My first reaction when I saw this video was that SNL had somehow gotten funny again,” Lance told Watters. “I was sure that it was a big comedy sketch and I was not in on the joke.”
The senator said he was “shocked” to learn that Ashton-Cirillo does actually represent the Ukrainian military, which he noted “is almost entirely at this point funded by the American taxpayer.”
Vance pointed out that Ashton-Cirillo’s threat about hunting down “Russian propagandists” would apply to U.S. journalists who question the regime’s narrative on the war in Ukraine.
Once such journalist, American citizen Gonzalo Lira, is currently languishing in a Ukrainian prison on allegations of spreading Russian propaganda, Breitbart reported.
Lira, a dual citizen of the United States and Chile who was living in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv at the time of the Russian invasion, is reportedly facing between five to eight years in prison under Ukraine’s wartime propaganda laws.
“Are we really funding a military that is threatening the free speech rights of people who disagree with the Ukrainian war effort?” Vance asked.
🔥Senator @JDVance1 SLAMS taxpayer-funded Ukrainian spokesperson for issuing death threats:
“Are we really funding a military that is threatening the free speech rights of people who disagree with the Ukraine war? Why are our paid guns threatening the rights of Americans?” pic.twitter.com/IkGVxZHTa9
— Senator Vance Press Office (@SenVancePress) September 20, 2023
After Vance raised awareness about the Ashton-Cirillo’s activities in Ukraine, the Command of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Wednesday put out the following statement:
The statements of JSgt Ashton-Cirillo in recent days were not approved by the command of the TDF or the command of the AFU. When conducting military operations against the aggressor, the defense forces of Ukraine strictly observe the norms of international humanitarian law.
The command of the TDF will conduct an official investigation into the circumstances of these statements. Appropriate decisions would be taken. Sergeant Sarah Ashton-Cirillo will be suspended immediately pending the investigation.