Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine focused on alleged Russian war crimes during the ongoing invasion. He met with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova to discuss the topic.
“The United States is sending an unmistakable message. There is no place to hide,” Garland said Tuesday. “We will we and our partners will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable.”
According to a Justice Department news release, Garland “announced additional U.S. actions to help Ukraine identify, apprehend, and prosecute those individuals involved in war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine” during the visit. The announcement included the formation of a war crimes accountability team within the department.
“This initiative will bring together the Department’s leading experts in investigations involving human rights abuses and war crimes and other atrocities; and provide wide-ranging technical assistance, including operational assistance and advice regarding criminal prosecutions, evidence collection, forensics, and relevant legal analysis,” the department said in its release. “The team will also play an integral role in the Department’s ongoing investigation of potential war crimes over which the U.S. possesses jurisdiction, such as the killing and wounding of U.S. journalists.”
Garland chose Eli Rosenbaum to lead the team. The department described Rosenbaum as “a 36-year veteran of the Justice Department who previously served as Director of the Office of Special Investigations.” The office “was primarily responsible for identifying, denaturalizing, and deporting Nazi war criminals,” according to the department.
Garland’s War Crimes Accountability team represents one of several steps the Justice Department has taken in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The department also launched a task force known as “KleptoCapture” which is focused on seizing yachts and other luxury assets of Russian oligarchs.
“Thank you for your support…on our judicial front,” Venediktova said to Garland Tuesday. “For us, it’s actually very important to be together and we all understand that we have a huge enemy. And so we should try to do all the best to fight it.”
Reuters contributed to this report.