New York State In-depth

US will help Ukraine with 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 identified areas for collaboration that could be strengthened and also signed a memorandum understanding (MOU) that will allow for the proper coordination, cooperation and deconfliction between the two countries’ 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 and apprehend individuals involved in war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine. We will continue to be relentless 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 investigations and prosecutions by, consistent with national laws, eliminating obstacles to efficient and timely exchange of evidence and information in prosecutions and investigations by both countries, and increasing the ease at the speed at which technical cooperation can be provided.

The MOU builds on previous efforts by the department following the Attorney General’s visit to Ukraine on June 21 2022. On that trip, Attorney General Garland announced the establishment of the War Crimes Accountability Team to consolidate and strengthen the Justice Department’s ongoing efforts to ensure accountability for those who have committed atrocities, war crimes, and other crimes in Ukraine in the wake of the unprovoked Russian invasion. The team is comprised of the department’s leading experts in investigations that involve human rights violations as well as war crimes and other atrocities. The team offers a wide range of technical assistance that includes operational assistance and guidance on criminal prosecutions and evidence collection as well as forensics and legal analysis. The main 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 necessity of continuing efforts to counter Russian illicit financial transactions and sanctions avoidance. In March the Attorney General Garland announced the establishment of Task Force KleptoCapture (TFKC) to make use of the department’s tools and resources to stop attempts to defy or undermine collective actions of the U.S. Government in response to Russian military aggression. TFKC is an interagency law enforcement taskforce based by the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, is committed to enforcing sweeping sanctions, export controls, and economic countermeasures that the United States, along with its allies and partners from abroad have imposed in reaction to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine. Since it was created, the task force has helped facilitate the confiscation and forfeiture assets like superyachts and aircrafts, of sanctioned people with close connections to the Russian regime; dismantled Russian criminal networks; and enforced sanctions violations, in addition to other actions.

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