U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday that the Department of Justice is cooperating with the International Criminal Court and supporting Ukraine in investigations into Russian war crimes.
“Over the past 17 months, the world has watched as invading Russian forces have committed atrocities on the largest scale in any European armed conflict since the Second World War,” Garland said in remarks before the American Bar Association.
He added that the DOJ is “honored” to stand with Ukrainian prosecutors who have “documented the Russian regime’s forced deportation of Ukrainian children and its use of sexual violence as a weapon of war.”
In March of this year, the International Criminal Court announced it had issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin related to the the abduction of Ukrainian children.
Garland said that the DOJ’s War Crimes Accountability Team, launched this past spring, is investigating war crimes in Ukraine that may also violate U.S. law.
“It is modeled in part on the Justice Department’s decades-long effort to identify, denaturalize, and deport Nazi war criminals in the United States,” he said.
He further explained that until recently, federal authority to prosecute war crimes was limited to cases in which a U.S. national was a victim or a perpetrator. However, amid the Ukraine-Russia war Congress has enacted changes to the law that now allow the DOJ to prosecute war criminals inside the U.S. from any country.
“War criminals will find no refuge in America,” Garland vowed.
In his Monday speech, Garland further noted that within months of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Task Force KleptoCapture, an interagency law enforcement unit dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export controls and economic countermeasures that the U.S. and allies had imposed, had seized more than $500 million in assets including two super yachts owned by Russian oligarchs.