Kiev's Ashton-Cirillo fired over 'hunt down' Russia journalists threat
Ukraine's military says an investigation was launched into Ashton-Cirillo's recorded threats to "service justice" to Russian "propagandists."
The Ukrainian Armed Forces' American spokesperson, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, was suspended on Wednesday "with immediate effect" after making a public potential death threat against Russian journalists, declaring that Russian "propagandists will all be hunted down" and "served justice" by next week.
"The statements of [Junior Sergeant] Ashton-Cirillo in recent days were not approved by the command of the [Territorial Defense Forces] or the command of the [Armed Forces of Ukraine]," the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces said in a post on X on Wednesday.
"Sergeant Sarah Ashton-Cirillo will be suspended immediately," the statement continued, adding that a probe was launched into the official's conduct.
"Next week, the teeth of the Russian devil will gnash ever harder, and their rabid mouths will foam in an uncontrollable frenzy as the world will see a favorite Russia propagandist pay for their crimes... And this puppet of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin will be the first," Ashton-Cirillo said in a video statement earlier this week.
"Russia's war criminal propagandists will all be hunted down, and justice will be served," the ex-spokesperson added, without specifying who the individual was or how they would be "served" with justice.
Ashton-Cirillo being paid with US resources
The recorded threat drew a predominantly negative response from both sides of the war.
Alongside Moscow's condemnation of the statement, which, according to Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova serves as additional proof of Kiev's engagement in terrorist actions, US Republican Senator JD Vance sounded his objection to such statements.
In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Vance demanded information on whether Ashton-Cirillo was being "compensated with US resources," or previously worked for US intelligence.
The Senator warned of the trend that "any critic of America’s incoherent policy in Ukraine has been slandered as a propagandist, including multiple presidential candidates and American journalists."
"I worry American resources could be supporting violence or the threat of violence against people for speaking their mind," he continued.
Not an isolated incident
The Ukrainian government and nationalist groups in the country have a well-documented history of suppressing freedom of speech and targeting both Ukrainian and foreign journalists criticizing Kiev.
Notably, Ukraine's infamous Mirotvorets website maintains a "kill list" that contains personal information about dissenting reporters, politicians, opposition figures, bloggers, and even minors, all labeled as "enemies of Ukraine."
When someone on this list is killed, the website marks their photograph with the word "liquidated." Tragically, this has led to the deaths of various individuals, including Ukrainian publicist Oles Buzina, legislator Oleg Kalashnikov, Russian journalists Zemfira Suleimanova, Igor Kornelyuk, and Anton Voloshin, as well as Russian photojournalist Andrey Stenin, Italian freelance photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, and Darya Dugina, the daughter of Russian philosopher Alexander Dugin, among others.