Resolute Square

War’s Tests Of Courage And Character

Despite baseless accusations of espionage and foreign influence, Kyle Parker, a dedicated civil servant involved in Ukraine's fight against Russian aggression, remains steadfast in his support. As Sarah Ashton-Cirillo highlights, those who sacrifice and contribute to Ukraine's cause often face scrutiny, yet their heroic actions cannot be overshadowed by the J.D Vances of the world.
Published:February 29, 2024

By Sarah Ashton-Cirillo

War, in all of its visceral and brutal reality, is an unknown quantity to most. Multifaceted layers of complexity, constant bursts of chaos, and fleeting moments of joy encompass the reality of war. Those qualities separate it from even the best-reviewed films on the subject. During the most intense moments, war manifests leadership, sacrifice, and heroism, joined by the twin failings: jealousy and cowardice.
I recently introduced the readers of this column to Major General Vladyslav Klochkov, the head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Main Directorate of Moral and Psychological Support. I described the General as a Scholar-Warrior and natural leader because he epitomizes the best of us as a society. He is a circumspect military man striving to ensure his soldiers remain alive in the face of Russian terrorism and war crimes while attempting to help save his fellow Ukrainians from the Kremlin’s ongoing genocide against them. General Klochkov’s key to success is focusing on the details necessary to achieve the goals leading to victory while rising above internecine political squabbles and media-driven hot takes. All that drives him is the need to preserve life, democracy, and the territorial integrity of his beloved Ukraine.
On the same day, Resolute Square ran an exclusive piece on General Klochkov, and his latest book, The New York Times, ran a story on Ukraine. The Times article, emanating from inside the Byzantine offices of a relatively obscure government commission, also touched on some qualities found in the human condition during war. However, unlike Resolute Square's examination of leadership in the most challenging circumstances, the Times story falsely eviscerates a humble government servant named Kyle Parker, creating a scandal where none exists.
For background, Kyle Parker is a long-time staffer of the Committee for Security and Cooperation in Europe, more commonly known as the US Helsinki Commission. Created in the 1970s by the US Congress, the Committee itself states its founding came “ in response to activists in the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe who saw the Helsinki Final Act as a new opportunity to press governments to improve their human rights records and allow, despite Europe’s division, expanded contacts between people.”
Every Congress, the Chairmanship of the Helsinki Commission rotates between the House and Senate. During the 117th Congress, the CSCE was chaired by Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland. Kyle Parker served as its Chief of Staff. For the current Congress, Republican Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina took the helm and, in doing so, brought in his own team. Despite the change, Parker remained the Senior Senate adviser to the Commission under Cardin’s continued leadership.
(Full Disclosure: I have met with and briefed staffers of the Helsinki Commission in person on numerous occasions since 2022. I have also briefed Mr. Wilson’s Congressional office on Ukraine-related activities separate from the CSCE. Furthermore, I consider Kyle Parker to be a personal acquaintance. On those occasions, while meeting with GOP staffers or members, along with those on the Democratic side, I have always found every person attentive, focused, and bipartisan in their approach to assuring Ukraine’s victory over Russia.)
The Helsinki Commision’s internal squabbling would have never elicited coverage in the NY Times or any other outlet had it not involved an explosive allegation tied to Ukraine. Chairman Wilson’s appointee as the Executive Director of the CSCE, Steven Schrage, along with the Commission’s General Counsel, wrote a scathing report accusing Parker of deeds that suggested he could have been compromised by foreign intelligence or acting as a so-called “unregistered Foreign Agent.” The confidential paper also implied Parker was passing himself off as a soldier or military adjacent professional and representing the US government during his travels. It is essential to note that the date of Schrage’s report came after Parker brought his concerns about Schrage to Commission leadership.
What prompted these suggestions of wrongdoing, intrigue, and criminality? Certainly not the gear that Parker brought with him during multiple trips to Ukraine’s frontlines of Ukraine’s war for liberty and liberation while delivering $30,000 worth of non-kinetic equipment, including items purchased from Amazon such as binoculars, range finders, and wind measurement tools—not inconsequential, Parker also brought hope to the Ukrainian soldiers encountered here.
During numerous discussions with Parker here on the ground in Ukraine, he never once suggested to me, nor those close to me in the Ukrainian military, that he was representing the American government. Rather, he made it clear that he was here as a dedicated volunteer and never in a professional capacity. Going so far as to describe the personal animus he felt towards those endangering the lives of his extremely close Ukrainian family members and his long history of confronting the Putin administration directly from his posts within the Federal Government, Parker often lamented he couldn’t do more but that he had to adhere to the rules that came with his governmental duties. As the architect behind the Magnitsky Act, which financially punishes Russia for Human Rights violations, Parker has been in the crosshairs of the Kremlin for more than half a decade. This hatred by the Moscow regime for Parker reached a crescendo in 2018 when Putin demanded that the US turn him over to be interrogated by Russian special services. Ukraine’s war is personal for Parker, but from what I witnessed on the ground, he never once crossed any ethical, legal, or moral lines.
What prompted this weaponization of the federal government against an American civil servant and one of Russia’s longtime enemies by Republican congressional staffers is truly a mystery. As someone accused of being an American intelligence agent by a sitting US Senator due to my role in Ukraine’s most successful information operation against Russia, it confounds me how those in Washington presume to know what is taking place within the fog of war a continent away. America’s law enforcement agents are the world’s best. If the FBI is concerned about Parker, they will already be investigating him. For two heretofore nameless members of the D.C. bureaucracy to launch a broadside against a man who has brought Ukraine closer to victory through his courageous self-sacrifice is one of the most senseless and damaging acts against the US-Ukrainian partnership of the last two years. By feeding the insatiable D.C. to Kyiv to Moscow rumor mill, Parker’s colleagues have done nothing but provide gossip and fodder for our enemies while attempting to diminish the accomplishments of a man who has stood up to tyranny for decades.
Knowing the global statesmanship Congressman Wilson has exuded during the entirety of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it is shocking and concerning that this episode has blighted the sterling reputation he has helped the CSCE garner in the eyes of allies across the world, and especially here in Ukraine.
After being maliciously attacked by Senator JD Vance, my work on behalf of the people of Ukraine and freedom across the globe recently saw me honored with the Ukrainian Commander in Chief’s Golden Cross award. Next is Kyle Parker’s turn to be recognized. The sooner Parker can move past these baseless charges, the sooner he can be awarded his proper title: Hero of Ukraine.