AG Merrick Garland’s Trip to Ukraine Reaffirms US Commitment to Hold Russia Accountable for War Crimes
Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced trip to Lviv, Ukraine on Friday, March 3, at the invitation of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. Garland attended the “United for Justice Conference” alongside President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and international partners, reaffirming the United States' determination to hold Russia accountable for war crimes committed during its invasion of Ukraine.
Garland’s trip comes a week after President Joe Biden made his first trip to the country since the war began, and is one of several trips made by members of the Biden administration to Ukraine in the last week, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to Kyiv on February 27.
Garland held several meetings and signed an agreement to promote information sharing about Russian atrocities that have targeted maternity hospitals, schools, and other civilian dwellings since the start of the unprovoked conflict one year ago.
The attorney general also testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier in the week that he believed the Russian government was committing crimes against humanity and said he supports efforts by The Hague to investigate and prosecute those crimes. In addition, Congress recently granted DOJ the power to bring to justice other war criminals from other parts of the world so long as they’re living or staying inside America’s borders.
Garland’s visit to Ukraine was not announced for security reasons, but in a February statement marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion, Garland said prosecutors from the Justice Department’s War Crimes Accountability Team were “working closer than ever before” with its Ukrainian counterparts to “investigate specific crimes committed by Russian forces.”
The Justice Department said in a news release that the United States supports what is now being developed in The Hague, sponsored by Eurojust, looking into the possibility of creating a court to charge crimes of aggression. Garland’s trip serves as a reminder that the United States is committed to “uphold human rights and preserve a free and democratic society” by holding Russia accountable for its war crimes in Ukraine.
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