Attorney General Merrick Garland visits Ukraine: 'There is no hiding place for war criminals'

Garland also announced the creation of a War Crimes Accountability Team

Updated: June 21, 2022 - 10:59pm

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Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday visited Ukraine, where he met with the Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and promised the United States would help bring war criminals to justice.

"The United States stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s continued aggression and assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," Garland said in a press release announcing his surprise visit to Ukraine nearly four months after Russia's invasion.

"America – and the world – has seen the many horrific images and read the heart-wrenching accounts of brutality and death that have resulted from Russia’s unjust invasion of Ukraine," he said. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken formally declared in March that Russian servicemembers committed war crimes in Ukraine.

Last month, Ukraine made the first war crimes conviction in connection to the Kremlin's brutal invasion. Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was sentenced to life in prison for killing a Ukrainian civilian.

"There is no hiding place for war criminals. The U.S. Justice Department will pursue every avenue of accountability for those who commit war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine," Garland said Tuesday as he announced the creation of a War Crimes Accountability Team to assist in the prosecution of Ukraine-related war crimes.

"Working alongside our domestic and international partners, the Justice Department will be relentless in our efforts to hold accountable every person complicit in the commission of war crimes, torture, and other grave violations during the unprovoked conflict in Ukraine," he stressed.

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