Journalist from Las Vegas reporting from frontline in Ukraine

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 6:49 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - A freelance journalist who calls Las Vegas home is now in Ukraine covering the war. Sarah Ashton-Cirillo spoke to FOX5 via Zoom.

Ashton-Cirillo’s plan was to go to Ukraine to cover the humanitarian crisis and profile stories of refugees, but when she arrived, she was offered the chance to cover the conflict from the frontline.

“I think five media members have been killed, multiple ones attacked and several kidnapped,” Ashton-Cirillo shared.

Despite the constant danger, Ashton-Cirillo shares what she sees with the world via her twitter account @sarahashtonlv and her reporting for LGBTQ Nation.

“I did an interview with five men, who are gay, on what it was like to be fighting for Ukraine and I think me being in the community made them comfortable enough to speak with me,” Ashton-Cirillo explained.

As a transgender journalist, Ashton-Cirillo said she has been nothing but welcomed by the people and government of Ukraine from the moment she arrived. They allowed her to embed with Ukrainian troops.

“The Ukrainian Armed Forces went ahead and offered to credential me... I’ve been able to be exposed to a significant amount that I can’t report on until I leave... I’ve been around death already, some people dying right there in front of us,” Ashton-Cirillo recounted.

For the past 20 days, she has been with security forces in hard-hit Kharkiv, where parts of the city are only 10 miles from the Russian border.

“I wasn’t expecting to see what we will call war crimes happening in broad daylight,” Ashton-Cirillo said. “I was driving down the street and an apartment complex was hit. I was there right after the first responders were, and it is not something that you are expecting to see.”

As war rages on, life has been turned upside down. Much time is spent in basements as shelling is constant. Only ATMs, pharmacies and grocery stores remain open in Kharkiv, but Ashton-Cirillo maintains there is reason for hope.

“Ukraine is winning, but Ukraine still needs help,” she asserted.

Ashton-Cirillo believes Ukraine has the soldiers but desperately needs equipment and hopes the American government can help provide it.

She plans to write a book after getting back to Las Vegas about her time on the frontline.