Garland says the U.S. is pushing war crimes probes in Ukraine and has several suspects
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to "stand shoulder to shoulder" with war crimes prosecutors in Ukraine as he made an unannounced visit to the country.
Attorney General Merrick Garland made a surprise visit to Ukraine Friday to attend a conference focused on justice and human rights and throw his support behind an effort to hold Russia accountable for war crimes.
"I am here because the battles Ukrainians are fighting are not only for Ukraine, they are for all democracies and people who love freedom. And we stand with you," Garland said.
The attorney general's presence there underlines the Biden administration's support for Ukraine in a war that Russia started. The attorney general met with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine's prosecutor general and other foreign leaders.
Garland signed a deal to share information with them about atrocities Russia has committed in Ukraine – from bombing maternity hospitals and abducting Ukrainian children to targeting civilians.
"We are here today in Ukraine to speak clearly and with one voice, the perpetrators of those crimes will not get away with them," Garland said.
Ukraine's prosecutor general said they've documented at least 70,000 war crimes in just one year of the conflict.
Garland said the U.S. has already zeroed in on several suspects who have committed war crimes in Ukraine and has signed an agreement to share information with those international partners.
The Department of Justice already has forensic experts on the ground in Ukraine and Garland said he'll appoint a legal adviser to serve in the country soon, too.
Ukraine has already prosecuted a low level member of the Russian military.
But any cases against the people who directed the aggression and violence against civilians will take longer.
Garland also called back to history when the Justice Department partnered with Ukraine 30 years ago to bring Nazis who committed atrocities during World War II to justice.
U.S. authorities ultimately were able to bring deportation proceedings against about 130 people.
Garland has put Eli Rosenbaum, who led that effort, in charge of the Ukraine war crimes team.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
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