US will aid Ukraine in War Crimes justice

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin met today in Washington to discuss efforts to hold accountable those responsible for the atrocities committed by war criminals and others in the aftermath of Russia’s provocative and unlawful invasion of Ukraine. The leaders laid out areas for cooperation that can be improved and also signed a memorandum understanding (MOU) which will enable appropriate cooperation, coordination, and deconfliction between their respective prosecutions and investigations.

“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 our decision to work more closely together to identify, apprehend, and prosecute those who were who have been involved in war crimes and other atrocities that have occurred in Ukraine. We will be relentless in our efforts to hold those responsible 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 barriers to timely and effective exchanges of information and evidence in prosecutions and investigations by the two countries, and increasing the ease at which technical cooperation may be provided.

The MOU builds on previous efforts by the department following the Attorney General’s visit Ukraine on the 21st of June, 2022. On that trip, Attorney General Garland announced the creation of the War Crimes Accountability Team to centralize and strengthen the Justice Department’s ongoing work to ensure accountability for those who have committed war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine in the aftermath of the unprovoked Russian invasion. The team brings together the department’s leading experts in investigations of human rights violations as well as war crimes and other atrocities. It also provides wide-ranging technical assistance, including operational assistance and advice regarding criminal prosecutions and evidence collection, forensics, and relevant legal analysis. The primary focus of the team’s mission is to further on-going investigations into potential war crimes for which the United States possesses jurisdiction, for example, the killing and injuring of U.S. journalists covering the unprovoked Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The two 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 further leverage the department’s resources and authority to stop attempts to defy or undermine collective actions of the U.S. Government in response to Russian military aggression. TFKC, an interagency law enforcement taskforce based from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, is devoted to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures the United States, along with its allies and partners from abroad have imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military occupation of Ukraine. Since its inception, the task force has assisted in the confiscation and forfeiture assets like superyachts as well as aircrafts, of sanctioned people with close relations to the Russian regime; demolished Russian criminal networks; and enforced sanctions violations, among other actions.

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