Jun 21, 2022 - World

Garland vows to help Ukraine prosecute war crimes during unannounced visit

US Attorney General Merrick Garland, speaks during the Online Harassment and Abuse Task Force announcement at at The Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on June 16. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Tuesday, where he met with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktov and affirmed his commitment to prosecuting war crimes committed during Russia's invasion.

Driving the news: "I'm here to continue our discussions ... about the actions the United States is taking to assist the Ukrainian authorities in holding accountable those responsible for the atrocities for the war crimes that the entire world has seen," Garland said Tuesday, per a video from a Department of Justice official.

  • "The United States is sending an unmistakable message: There is no place to hide," he continued.
  • "We and our partners will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable."
  • "I'm here to express the unwavering support of the United States for the people of Ukraine in the midst of the unprovoked and unjust Russian invasion," Garland also said.
  • Garland also announced the launch of a "war crimes accountability team" to "centralize and strengthen" the Justice Department's efforts to investigate war crimes and prosecute individuals involved in atrocities, the department said.

The big picture: The U.S. in March accused Russian forces of committing war crimes in Ukraine, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying: "We are committed to pursuing accountability using every tool available, including criminal prosecutions."

Go deeper... What counts as a war crime and why they're so hard to prosecute

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information on the launch of the "war crimes accountability team."

Go deeper