Merrick Garland makes surprise, war crimes-focused visit to Ukraine

Merrick Garland and Iryna Venediktova.
Merrick Garland and Iryna Venediktova. AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

Attorney General Merrick Garland made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Tuesday to discuss and reaffirm the United States' commitment to helping Kyiv "identify, apprehend, and prosecute individuals involved in war crimes and atrocities" in Russia's war in Ukraine, the Department of Justice said.

"I am 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 said Tuesday. He met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

The attorney general also announced the launch of the War Crimes Accountability Team, "which will take part in the investigation of potential war crimes in Ukraine that fall under U.S. jurisdiction," writes CBS News. The initiative will be led by former Director of the Office of Special Investigations Eli Rosenbaum, and will "centralize and strengthen" the department's "ongoing work to hold accountable those who have committed war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine," per a release from the Justice Department.

Additionally, Garland said the DOJ will provide Ukraine with a federal prosecutor to help with matters of kleptocracy and corruption.

Prior to Garland's Tuesday meeting with Venediktova, U.S. officials had said the U.S. would help Ukraine identify and prosecute war crimes related to the Russian invasion, NBC News notes.

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