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US Attorney General Garland meets Zelensky in Ukraine during surprise visit


Attorney General Merrick B. Garland paid an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Friday to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to help hold Russia accountable for war crimes, a Justice Department spokeswoman said.

Garland held several meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and foreign law enforcement officials in Lviv while attending the United for Justice conference, the department said in an email.

During the conference, Mr. Garland “reaffirmed our determination to hold Russia accountable for the crimes committed during its unjust and unprovoked invasion against its sovereign neighbor,” the email said.

Mr Zelensky, in his late night address, said the aim of the conference was to hold Russian leaders accountable for atrocities committed by its military, a position he has repeatedly hammered home in the past year of war . “The main problem with all these meetings and the Lviv conference is accountability,” he said.

Mr Garland’s visit, which was not public in advance for security reasons, follows President Biden’s trip to Kyiv last month – and two days after Mr Garland told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that he was determined to hold the Russians accountable for the war crimes they are committing in Ukraine.

Mr. Garland, a former federal judge whose family escaped the Holocaust in Eastern Europe, nominated Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Moscow-allied paramilitary group Wagner.

“Mr. Prigozhin, who is running this thing, is in my opinion a war criminal – and it may be inappropriate for me to say that as a judge before getting all the evidence,” Mr. Garland said. to the committee.

Mr Garland added that he believed the group “is responsible for attacks on Ukrainians in the Donbass” and accused them of using prisoners from Russia “as cannon fodder” in Ukraine.

Last June, Mr. Garland made another surprise trip to Ukraine, where he met for an hour with then Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova in the village of Krakovets, about a mile from the border with the Poland, to discuss technical, forensic and legal support the United States could provide, ministry officials said.

He used the visit to announce the appointment of Eli Rosenbaum, a veteran prosecutor known for investigating former Nazis, to lead US efforts in tracking down Russian war criminals.

The department is currently assisting Ukrainian prosecutors and its national police in the recovery, storage and analysis of huge amounts of evidence collected in relation to possible Russian abuses and atrocities.

In September, Garland met with Andriy Kostin, Ukraine’s current attorney general, in Washington to discuss those efforts and sign a memorandum of understanding aimed at increasing coordination between their two agencies. They met again in Lviv, Ukraine on Friday.

nytimes Gt

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