June 22, 2024

Why is Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, a Nevada man who claims to be a woman, helping lead Ukraine’s English-speaking propaganda push? That’s something that Sen. J.D. Vance is seeking to find out after the “transgender” spokesperson’s latest wild rant went viral. 

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(For the latest on the war on the ground, click here)

Here’s what that sounded like.

ASHTON-CIRILLO: Russia hates the truth. Their obsessive focus on a Ukranian volunteer is simply allowing the light of the Ukranian 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 a favorite Kremlin propagandist 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

Having seen this organically at first (i.e. not via another news article), I thought it was a parody. At best, I figured this was some overzealous individual who doesn’t realize they are likely doing more to alienate people from Ukraine’s cause than to draw them in. But nope, according to multiple reports, Ashton-Cirillo is actually the spokesperson for the nation’s Territorial Defense Force.

In fact, France 24 did a glowing profile of him recently.

On that basis, she is getting results.

Last week, Russian television showed an hour-long special calling Ashton-Cirillo a “terrible disgrace to the Ukrainian people” and a “monster”.

Ashton-Cirillo, who has a background in journalism and research, said she had only planned a two-week stay in Ukraine.

Nineteen months in, she is a junior sergeant and hosts live YouTube shows from her studio called “Ukraine in the Know” and “Russia Hates the Truth”.

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One of the odd things is that Ashton-Cirillo and the news outlets praising him as “getting results” seem to think that Russian outrage is somehow proof of that. For example, the above-linked article cites a supposed “obsession with Ashton-Cirillo’s comments by Russian media outlets. 

What does that actually tell us, though? Because it seems very possible that the Russian media is actually taking advantage of this. What better way to help drive support for the war than to have a foil such as Ashton-Cirillo, whose “transgender” identity alone runs counter to most Russian viewpoints? Never mind that threatening to hunt down “propagandists” and kill them, not just those that have waged war on Ukraine, bolsters Putin’s own propaganda.

In other words, I think the “obsession” is calculated and that Ukraine is making a pretty grave mistake in platforming a man in a wig to make death threats. It cheapens the Ukrainian war effort and makes it look like a joke, and as someone who does think Ukraine has a right to defend itself (albeit without an endless stream of U.S. money), that seems highly counter-productive. 

Sen. J.D. Vance is now wanting answers

The ominous message, which quickly went viral, has sparked many questions about Ashton-Cirillo’s background and alleged current role with the Ukrainian military, including from Sen. Vance.

“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’,” he wrote in a letter to Sec. Blinken, Sec Austin, and Director Haines.

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Vance goes on to ask whether Ashton-Cirillo has any connections to U.S. intelligence, something that has been rumored for a while. The senator also noted that the death threats against “propagandists” made by the TDF spokesperson would include many Americans who have questioned U.S. involvement in the war. 

Will he get any answers? Almost certainly not. Still, Ukrainian officials should seriously consider whether having Ashton-Cirillo become the face of their English-speaking audience is helping the war effort. Because where I’m sitting, I’m pretty sure it’s hurting it. 

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