US will support Ukraine in War Crimes justice

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin met today in Washington to discuss ways to hold accountable those accountable for atrocities and war crimes that occurred in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine. The leaders identified areas for enhanced collaboration and also signed a memorandum agreement (MOU) which will enable the proper coordination, cooperation and deconfliction between each country’s respective investigations and prosecutions.

“The United States stands by the people of Ukraine in their tireless pursuit to uphold the rule of law and seek justice for victims in the face of Russia’s continued aggression,” said U.S. Attorney General Garland. “Today the Department of Justice and the Prosecutor General’s Office announced that we will work more closely to identify and apprehend individuals involved in war crimes as well as other atrocities committed in Ukraine. We will not stop in our efforts to hold perpetrators accountable.”

“The MOU we signed today allows us to step up our common efforts in ensuring accountability for international crimes,” said Ukraine Prosecutor General Kostin. “Through establishing a formal framework of cooperation, we will strengthen effective investigation and prosecution of crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine and provide a measure of justice to victims.”

The U.S.-Ukraine MOU will promote efficiency in prosecutions and investigations by, consistent with national law, removing obstacles to efficient and timely exchange of information and evidence in the course of prosecutions and investigations between the two countries, and increasing the ease with the speed at which technical cooperation can be facilitated.

The MOU builds on prior initiatives by the department following the Attorney General’s visit Ukraine in June 21 2022. During that trip the Attorney General Garland announced the establishment of a War Crimes Accountability Team to centralize and strengthen the Justice Department’s ongoing work to hold accountable those who have committed war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine following the unprovoked Russian invasion. The team is comprised of the department’s top experts in investigations involving human rights violations, war crimes, and other atrocities; and provides a broad range of technical assistance that includes operational assistance and advice regarding criminal prosecutions as well as evidence collection, forensics, and relevant legal analysis. The main focus of the team’s mission is to conduct ongoing investigations into possible war crimes over which the United States possesses jurisdiction, for example, the killing and injuring of U.S. journalists covering the unprovoked Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The leaders also discussed the importance of continuing efforts to stop Russian illicit financial transactions and sanctions avoidance. In March, Attorney General Garland announced the establishment of Task Force KleptoCapture (TFKC) to make use of the department’s tools and authorities to stop attempts to defy or undermine collective actions of the U.S. Government in response to Russian military aggression. TFKC, an interagency task force for law enforcement run from the Office of the Deputy AttorneyGeneral, is committed to enforcing broad sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures the United States, along with its foreign allies and partners, has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military occupation of Ukraine. Since its inception, the task force has assisted in the confiscation and forfeiture of assets, such as superyachts as well as aircrafts, of sanctioned people who have close relations to the Russian regime; dismantled Russian criminal networks and enforced sanctions violations, among other actions.

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