Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a transgender American-born military spokesperson for Ukraine, has been suspended over unapproved public statements, the Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) announced Wednesday.
Ashton-Cirillo’s suspension was immediate and TDF said it would be launching an investigation, the post added.
“The statements of JSgt Ashton-Cirillo in recent days were not approved by the command of the TDF or the command of the AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine]. When conducting military operations against the aggressor, the defense forces of Ukraine strictly observe the norms of international humanitarian law,” the post reads. “Sergeant Sarah Ashton-Cirillo will be suspended immediately pending the investigation.”
1/3 Statement of the Command of the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine regarding some statements of the spokesperson of the TDF, Junior Sergeant Sarah Ashton-Cirillo
— Ukraine Territorial Defense Forces (@TDF_UA) September 20, 2023
The announcement made no mention of what unapproved statements were allegedly uttered by the spokesperson. Ashton-Cirillo has not commented publicly on the matter at the time of writing.
Republican Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance called out Ashton-Cirillo over a recent speech, according to a Sept. 15 letter from Vance to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
“In recent days, a video has circulated of an individual who claims to be an English-speaking spokesperson for the Ukrainian military. In the video, this individual, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, looks directly into the camera and threatens physical violence to anyone who circulates ‘Russian propaganda’,” Senator Vance wrote in the letter. (RELATED: ‘American Citizens On The Kill List’: Ukraine Spox Who Pledged Global War On Russia ‘Propagandists’ Spars With Vance)
Vance further inquired whether Ashton-Cirillo was an American intelligence asset and whether Ukraine was planning to commit violence against those who engaged in speech they deemed was Russian propaganda.
Ashton-Cirillo appeared in a public video dated Sept. 13, 2023, saying “next week,” a “favorite Kremlin propagandist will pay for their crimes,” and that all such pro-Russian propagandists would meet the same fate of being “hunted down.”
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.
The russians and their supporters are gnashing their teeth as predicted.
— Sarah Ashton-Cirillo (Ukrainian TDF Media) (@SarahAshtonLV) September 13, 2023
Ashton-Cirillo doubled down in a video statement posted Monday, saying pro-Russian propagandists are “not journalists” and that such “enemies of freedom and democracy will have to answer for their crimes in a court of law.” Ashton-Cirillo tagged Vance in the post.
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
Vance called the statement “[d]isgusting.”
To everyone asking: Yes, this is real.
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. https://t.co/X9Y3hHZoVe
— J.D. Vance (@JDVance1) September 18, 2023