Meeting In DC Urging America To Meet The Moment

American fighting with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, returned to the US to meet with lawmakers and urge continued support for those on the zero line in defense of democracy around the world.
Published:June 1, 2023
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By Sarah Ashton-Cirillo

During the waning days of May, I landed in Poland after just over two weeks in the United States. It was my second sojourn to Washington, D.C., in the past six months. On the surface, the trips appear similar, but this visit brought into much more explicit focus that bipartisan backing for Ukraine on Capitol Hill remains abundant.
 
As former US Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) famously and accurately described during his time in the House of Representatives, Ukraine’s current war for liberty and liberation against Russia is a “1938 moment.” While not expressing it in such evocative terms as Kinzinger did last October, today, many of his former colleagues on both sides of the aisle understand the full global ramifications if the United States were to abandon Ukraine at a time when good is so close to defeating evil. This unyielding support starkly contrasts the false narrative that has bubbled up, suggesting that the resolve for a clear and decisive Ukrainian victory is eroding inside the halls of Congress.
 
During meetings with elected officials and staffers, I shared my 16 months of experiences in Ukraine, first as a journalist and for the last eight months as a soldier, then sergeant, in the Armed Forces; it comforted me that in each office, we were able to engage in nuanced and informative discussions. On issues ranging from press freedom to weapons systems, and economic sanctions, these representatives of the American people fundamentally understand the needs of Ukraine as it moves toward victory.
 
Although supportive as a whole, legitimate concerns were raised regarding how US taxpayer funds were being spent and managed on the ground in Ukraine. However, responding wasn’t difficult as the ongoing Ukraine Oversight Interagency Working Group, which consists of 20 different federal organizations inside the US government, has found no impactful or substantial fraud or waste relating to US military aid to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In my experience, these findings are wholly accurate.
 
One point of disagreement expressed by congressional offices and the White House is the widely reported gulf as to which weapons systems can and should be provided to Ukraine by the United States. My take was simple: Get us all of them, and do it now. From my trench-level view, however, I shared with multiple Senate and House offices that one munition would be the proverbial game changer: Dual-purpose improved conventional munition or DPICMs. These weapons, which are up to 15 times more effective than the artillery shells currently being provided to Ukraine by the US, are being rightfully touted by members of GOP leadership to speed up Ukraine’s victory. By providing the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the DPICMs, which are in abundant supply and have already been given to us by Turkey, we will be able to soften up the Russian trenches while saving US taxpayers money in the short and long term. Unfortunately, some influential Democrats are concerned about granting us these shells since they mistakenly conflate them with the horrors of Vietnam Era cluster munitions. Hopefully, a sustained push by others in the Dem caucus explaining why DPICMs make the most sense will bring any holdouts, along with the Biden Administration, on board.
 
No matter the topic we discussed, I left every meeting assuring those in attendance of one fact: US aid to Ukraine is the best use of taxpayer dollars in a foreign country since the Marshall Plan. This is a pivotal and transformative moment in Ukrainian history and the march toward freedom for all nations. The US is not only the world’s sole superpower but a beacon of hope and a pillar of liberty amidst the darkness of totalitarianism and tyranny. Of course, I knew this before my trip, but I am more certain of it now, and thanks to the support of the US taxpayer and their elected representatives, I remain confident that Ukraine has already won.