US Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Friday, his second trip to the country since Russia invaded a little more than a year ago.
The trip was not announced for security reasons, according to a Justice Department official.
Garland was invited to Lviv by the Ukrainian prosecutor general, the official said, and joined President Volodymyr Zelensky at the “United for Justice Conference.”
The attorney general “held several meetings and reaffirmed our determination to hold Russia accountable for crimes committed in its unjust and unprovoked invasion against its sovereign neighbor,” the official said.
The trip comes nearly two weeks after President Joe Biden made his first trip to Ukraine since the war began and is one of several trips made by members of Biden’s Cabinet. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also recently made a trip to Ukraine to meet with Zelensky.
The Justice Department has taken several steps to hold the Russian government and its supporters accountable since the invasion began.
On Wednesday, Garland testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he believed the Russian government was committing crimes against humanity and said the Justice Department supports efforts by The Hague to investigate and prosecute those crimes.
“The United States supports what is now being developed in The Hague, sponsored by Eurojust, looking into the possibility of creating that court [to charge crimes of aggression],” Garland testified.
“There are concerns that we have to take into account with respect to how that might deal with our own service members and other circumstances,” he continued. “We have to be sure that the appropriate guardrails are up. But we support any number of different ways in which war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the potential for crimes against aggression are investigated.”