Garland makes surprise visit to Ukraine


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“Just over twelve months ago, invading Russian forces began committing atrocities at the largest scale in any armed conflict since the Second World War,” Garland said at the conference, according to a readout provided by the Justice Department. “We are here today in Ukraine to speak clearly, and with one voice: the perpetrators of those crimes will not get away with them.”

“In addition to our work in partnership with Ukraine and the international community, the United States has also opened criminal investigations into war crimes in Ukraine that may violate U.S. law,” Garland added.

“The United States recognizes that what happens here in Ukraine will have a direct impact on the strength of our own democracy,” Garland said, before invoking historical parallels including the Holocaust and Nuremberg war trials.

Garland stressed that U.S. human rights and environmental prosecutors are providing advice and assistance to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office on specific cases, including environmental war crimes.

The surprise visit comes just after the one-year anniversary of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and just about two weeks after President Joe Biden made his first trip to the country — which had also been unannounced — since the war began. Garland is the second Cabinet official to visit Ukraine in recent weeks, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveling to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy on Feb. 27.

This is also the second surprise visit Garland has made to Ukraine since Russia invaded. The first was in June 2022, when he traveled to western Ukraine to discuss the actions the U.S. was taking to hold Russia accountable for war crimes and atrocities.

Garland said in a February statement marking the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion that prosecutors from the Justice Department’s War Crimes Accountability Team were “working closer than ever before” with its Ukrainian counterparts to “investigate specific crimes committed by Russian forces, including attacks on civilian targets.”

“Over the past year, the Ukrainian people have shown the world what courage looks like,” Garland said in the statement. “And for as long as it takes, the Department of Justice will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Ukrainian and international partners in defense of justice and the rule of law.”

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( With inputs from : )

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