Attorney General Merrick Garland becomes latest Biden official to visit Ukraine
Attorney General Merrick Garland paid an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Wednesday, where he met with the country’s top prosecutor to discuss Russian war crimes.
Garland sat down with Ukrainian Attorney General Iryna Venediktova “to discuss US and international efforts to assist Ukraine in identifying, apprehending and prosecuting individuals involved in war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine,” the Justice Department said. in a statement.
Garland made the stop as part of a previously planned trip to Paris and Warsaw.
“I am here to extend the United States’ unwavering support to the people of Ukraine amid the unprovoked and unjustified Russian invasion,” he told reporters upon his arrival.
“I am here to continue our discussions between me and the Attorney General about the actions the United States is taking to assist the Ukrainian authorities and those responsible for the atrocities for the war crimes committed around the world.” seen to be held accountable.
“The United States is sending an unmistakable message, there’s no place to hide. We and our partners will use all means available to ensure that those responsible for these atrocities are held accountable,” he noted.
During the trip, Garland announced the launch of a War Crimes Accountability Team to hold accountable those who committed war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine.
One role the team will play is investigating possible war crimes over which the US has jurisdiction, such as the killing and wounding of US journalists covering the war in Ukraine.
He and Venediktova met in Washington DC in May. Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray have said they are working with Ukraine to prosecute war crimes.
Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced visit to Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian Attorney General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova to discuss Russian war crimes
US Attorney General Merrick Garland, third right, and Ukrainian Attorney General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova, second left, meet in Krakovets, on Ukraine’s border with Poland
The two top prosecutors met for about an hour in Krakovets, on Ukraine’s border with Poland.
They discussed technical, forensic and legal support that Garland’s Justice Department could potentially provide prosecutors in Ukraine, ministry officials said. The New York Times†
Garland is the last Biden government official to visit the war-torn country since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his invasion in February.
First lady Jill Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have all made secret visits.
In April, Biden called Putin a “war criminal” and said he should be held accountable for his actions in Ukraine.
“He is a war criminal,” Biden said of Putin after reports of the massacre of civilians by Russian-controlled troops in the city of Bucha, Ukraine.
The mayor of Bucha has said about 300 residents of the city had been killed as Russian fighters checked the area.
“This man is brutal and what is happening in Bucha is outrageous and everyone has seen it,” Biden said.
“I think it’s a war crime. … He must be held accountable,” the president said.
Biden has yet to make a trip to Ukraine.
He said Monday that he will not stop there on his upcoming trip to Europe, but he said he talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky three or four times a week.
Biden leaves Saturday for a G7 meeting in Germany and then heads to a NATO summit in Spain.
“Probably not on this trip,” he said when asked if he would travel to Ukraine.
He said a visit to Kiev depends on “whether it causes more trouble for Ukrainians, or distracts from what’s going on.”
“I’ve met Zelensky — I talk to him three, four times a week,” he told reporters while walking on the beach in Rehoboth, where he’s spending Father’s Day weekend with his family.
Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Katsura Tarō are the only two G7 leaders not to visit Zelensky in Kiev.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Ukraine last week for the second time since the Russian invasion began in February.
The leaders of France, Germany and Italy made a joint trip there last week to meet Zelensky as Ukraine submitted its application for EU accession. The three head the European Union’s three largest economies and said they support Ukraine’s candidacy to join the 27-member bloc.
President Joe Biden said he will not visit Ukraine on his upcoming trip to Europe, but he said he talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky three or four times a week.
The EU will debate the issue at its summit next week. Ukraine needs approval from all 27 member countries to be approved.
Biden said he expects Ukraine’s application to join the EU will be approved.
“I think that’s very likely to happen,” he said.