Ukraine’s military has said US-born Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s territorial defense forces, has been suspended from her role after she made statements that were not approved by the military hierarchy.
“Sarah Ashton-Cirillo has been suspended from the duties of the spokesperson of the (territorial defense forces of Ukraine) while an investigation is underway,” Ukraine's defense ministry said on social media.
Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Force (TDF) elaborated further, saying recent statements “were not approved by the command of the TDF or the command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU).”
It added: “When conducting military operations against the aggressor, the defense forces of Ukraine strictly observe the norms of international humanitarian law.”
After coming to Ukraine to report on refugees, Ashton-Cirillo ended up fighting for Ukraine and became a spokesperson for the country’s territorial defense forces.
A trans woman, she told AFP in a recent interview that she had learned to “embrace the hate of the Russians” who have mocked her gender identity.
It was unclear which statements provoked her suspension, but it is believed a recent spat with a US senator could be behind the move.
US Senator J.D. Vance, a vocal opponent of Ukraine whom the New York Times has tied to business interests that advance Russia’s propaganda efforts abroad, said Ashton-Cirillo had called on the assassination of Americans abroad.
Since there are several people asking for this video and many discussing it on Telegram and across social media channels, here is my latest episode of Russia Hates the Truth.— S. Ashton-Cirillo (@SarahAshtonLV) September 13, 2023
The russians and their supporters are gnashing their teeth as predicted.
Vance’s letter references a recent video from Ashton-Cirillo in which she says: “Russia hates the truth that their obsessive focus on a Ukrainian volunteer [Ashton-Cirillo], is simply allowing the light of the Ukrainian nation’s honesty to shine brightly.
“Next week, the teeth of the Russian devils will gnash ever harder, and their rabid mouths will foam in an uncontrollable frenzy as the world will see favorite Russian propagandists pay for their crimes.
“And this puppet of Putin is only the first. Russia's war criminal propagandists will all be hunted down, and justice will be served. As we in Ukraine are led on this mission, by faith in God, liberty, and complete liberation.”
Ashton-Cirillo hosts live YouTube shows from her studio called “Ukraine in the Know” and “Russia Hates the Truth.”
She also constantly posts on Twitter, where she has 156,000 followers.
In an interview with AFP, she said she had editorial control of her own production and aims to avoid a dry, number-based approach to covering the war.
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