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Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks Following Meeting with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as Delivered

Well, hello everyone. It is my great pleasure to welcome Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin back to the Justice Department today.

Andriy and I last saw each other during my trip to Ukraine in March. There, alongside President Zelenskyy and our international partners, we discussed our joint work to hold the Russian regime accountable for its atrocities against the Ukrainian people.

Today, we met to continue our conversation about the future of justice for Ukraine. We discussed our partnership and all the ways that we are working to strengthen it. And we reaffirmed our shared commitment to protecting democracy and the rule of law.

For over a year, Russia has engaged in an unjust war against Ukraine, committing atrocities at the largest scale of any armed conflict since the Second World War.

And for over a year, the people of Ukraine have fought with courage and conviction to protect their country.  

They have worked with unflagging resolve to record the brutalities committed against thousands of Ukrainian men, women, and children – and to hold the perpetrators of those atrocities accountable under the law.  

They have risked – and sacrificed – their lives in the defense of their country. 

The United States Department of Justice stands with them. And we are doing everything in our power to achieve the accountability necessary for true justice for Ukraine.  

During our meeting today, the Prosecutor General and I exchanged updates on our work with the Ukraine Joint Investigative Team, or JIT. Anchored by a partnership between seven countries, the JIT is investigating core international crimes committed in Ukraine.

During my trip to Lviv last month, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding that formalizes and facilitates our cooperation and coordination with the JIT.

As we discussed today, to further strengthen this partnership, the Justice Department will detail an experienced prosecutor to the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression Against Ukraine, which is hosted by the JIT.

The prosecutor will be based in The Hague at Eurojust – the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation – and he will provide access to the significant Departmental resources that we have deployed in response to this crisis.  

The Justice Department is also planning to send a Resident Legal Advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this summer. That advisor will work with our Ukrainian partners on a variety of complex justice sector issues.

In addition to these efforts, Andriy and I discussed the Department’s continuing work to hold the Russian regime accountable for its atrocities.

Prosecutors working with the Justice Department’s War Crimes Accountability Team continue to work closely with our counterparts in the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate specific crimes committed by Russian forces, including unlawful attacks directed at civilians.  

Our Ukrainian colleagues are also assisting us with our investigations that are led by the War Crimes Accountability Team into potential war crimes over which the United States possesses criminal jurisdiction. These include crimes in which American citizens have been harmed or killed. At the same time, Congress has recently expanded the Justice Department’s authority to prosecute alleged war criminals who are found here in the United States. This means that in the years – and the decades – ahead, Russian war criminals who set foot in our country should expect to find themselves before U.S. courts of law.

Meanwhile our Task Force KleptoCapture – a team of prosecutors, agents, analysts, translators, and other personnel – continues to bring prosecutions and effect seizures against sanctioned enablers of the Kremlin and Russian military. 

And as I discussed the last time that Andriy was here, we are exercising new authority granted by Congress to transfer certain assets that we have seized from Russian oligarchs for use in rebuilding Ukraine.  

I want to acknowledge the many Justice Department personnel involved in this work.

I also want to thank our domestic and international partners for joining us in this important effort to support the investigation and prosecution of atrocities in Ukraine.

We will do everything we can to help Ukraine achieve justice for its people. And we will work for as long as it takes to hold accountable under law those who bear responsibility for the Russian regime’s brutal crimes.  

I’m now to going turn this over to the Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

Updated April 17, 2023