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US Senate advisor faces investigation for unofficially supplying sniper gear to Ukraine, NYT reports

Monday, 26 February 2024, 12:06
US Senate advisor faces investigation for unofficially supplying sniper gear to Ukraine, NYT reports
Kyle Parker. Photo: Kyle Parker's Twitter (X)

A senior Senate advisor to the US Senate for the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Kyle Parker, is under investigation for allegedly unofficially transferring sniper equipment to Ukraine worth US$30,000.

Source: The New York Times

Quote: "A senior Capitol Hill staff member who is a longtime voice on Russia policy is under congressional investigation over his frequent trips to Ukraine’s war zones and providing what he said was $30,000 in sniper gear to its military, documents show."

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Details: Kyle Parker is a senior Senate advisor to the US Senate for the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, known as the Helsinki Commission. The commission is headed by members of Congress and staffed by congressmen's assistants. It influences issues of democracy and security and actively supports Ukraine.

A confidential report by the commission's director and general counsel said Parker travelled to the front lines in Ukraine wearing camouflage and Ukrainian military insignia and "had hired a Ukrainian official for a US government fellowship over the objections of congressional ethics and security officials".

A representative of Parker stated that he did nothing wrong. At the same time, the head of the commission recommended dismissing Parker.

The report relied on public records of the event, during which Parker talked about obtaining gear for Ukrainian snipers. 

In the recording, he mentioned that a relative in Ukraine handed him US$30,000 collected by veterans and volunteers. With that, he purchased rangefinders on Amazon and ballistic wind sensors from a manufacturer in Philadelphia.

He said he delivered them to Kharkiv during the Easter weekend of 2022 to "guys who are going to take it up with the snipers in the front." Range finders are specialised binoculars or monoculars; wind gauges help calculate weather parameters for aligning shots. 

The export of such equipment is not necessarily restricted, although shipments of complex models may be limited. Parker stated that he adheres to export laws: "You never go into wartime Ukraine with an empty suitcase."

The report raises questions about whether Parker's outspoken support for Ukraine crosses ethical and legal boundaries, suggesting that as a US government official, he may have acted as an agent for Ukraine. Parker, through his representative, denied these allegations.

On social media, Parker claimed that since the invasion in February 2022, he has travelled to Ukraine at least seven times, including to active combat zones, identifying himself as "the most well-travelled American official in wartime Ukraine."

In photos from these trips on social media, he is depicted wearing camouflage and insignia resembling those of Ukrainian units. 

Parker's representative stated that the visits to the front were not official. 

However, Parker publicly spoke as if they were official, leading some who travelled with him to believe he was on official state business.

Visiting the front lines in Ukraine is not illegal, despite the US State Department warning against it.

Two American officials familiar with the investigation said that Parker told Congress representatives that at least some of his trips aimed to persuade his remaining family in Ukraine to leave.

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