U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Ukraine on Tuesday in a show of American support for Kyiv’s prosecution of Russian forces accused of war crimes and other atrocities.
Garland met with Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, who is spearheading the investigation of what Kyiv says are 16,000 reported war crimes since Russia invaded the country almost four months ago.
Russia has denied targeting civilians in Ukraine.
As he headed into the meeting, Garland told reporters, “I’m here to express the unwavering support of the United States for the people of Ukraine in the midst of the unprovoked and unjust Russian invasion.”
He added, “The United States is sending an unmistakable message. There is no place to hide. We will, we and our partners will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable.”
The U.S. Justice Department, which Garland heads as the country’s top law enforcement official, has launched its own task force called “KleptoCapture,” which is focused on seizing yachts and other luxury assets of Russian oligarchs who are supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Last week, the U.S. took possession of a super yacht it had seized in Fiji.
In the first war crimes trial in Ukraine last month, a Russian soldier pleaded guilty to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian four days after the invasion began February 24.
Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was convicted in the fatal attack on a 62-year-old Ukrainian man and sentenced to life in prison.