Attorney General Merrick Garland and his Ukrainian counterpart, Andriy Kostin, signed an agreement Tuesday aimed at formalizing cooperation over joint efforts to prosecute alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces in the war in Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities have said they are investigating a mass burial site with more than 400 bodies found in Izyum, where Russian forces terrorized residents during a six-month occupation. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the spring said a previous massacre of civilians in Bucha amounted to “genocide.”
Garland said the agreement would build on the work of a war crimes accountability team he announced in June after visiting Ukraine and meeting with local authorities. That team, led by Eli Rosenbaum, a 36-year veteran of the Justice Department, is charged with providing technical and legal assistance to Ukrainian officials, including help on evidence collection and forensic analysis.
“America and the world has seen the horrific images and heart-wrenching reports of brutality and death caused by the unjust Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Garland said at the signing event. “In our meeting just now, I reiterated the Justice Department’s commitment in standing with the people of Ukraine in the face of those horrors.”
Kostin has made the rounds in Washington to amplify the urgency of holding Russia accountable for its brutality. During an appearance on CBS News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday, he said Ukrainian authorities had documented 34,000 war crimes.
At the Justice Department, Kostin said he had received word, just two hours before meeting with Garland, of newly discovered atrocities in Kharkiv, where another grave with 100 bodies was found.
“This evil should be fought and defeated by common efforts,” he said. “Those that commit international war crimes should be held accountable.”
War in Ukraine: What you need to know
The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in an address to the nation on Sept. 21, framing the move as an attempt to defend Russian sovereignty against a West that seeks to use Ukraine as a tool to “divide and destroy Russia.” Follow our live updates here.
The fight: A successful Ukrainian counteroffensive has forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in recent days, as troops fled cities and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war and abandoned large amounts of military equipment.
Annexation referendums: Staged referendums, which would be illegal under international law, are set to take place from Sept. 23 to 27 in the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, according to Russian news agencies. Another staged referendum will be held by the Moscow-appointed administration in Kherson starting Friday.
Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.