WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland made an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Friday, a Department of Justice official said.
Garland visited Lviv, the largest city in the western part of the country, at the invitation of Ukraine’s prosecutor general to join President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and international partners at the “United for Justice Conference,” the DOJ official said.
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 added.
The trip was not previously announced for security reasons and it’s unclear how Garland entered and exited Ukraine and how long he was there. Garland also made a surprise visit to the country last June, just a few months after the war began.
On Friday, the U.S. announced an additional $400 million in assistance for Ukraine and Biden met with Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss the conflict and other issues at the White House.
Garland’s visit comes just a few weeks after President Joe Biden made a surprise trip to Ukraine, marking the anniversary of Russia’s 2022 invasion into the country. Biden traveled to Ukraine on a roughly 10-hour overnight train ride from Poland.
Reflecting on the anniversary, Garland said in a statement in late February that prosecutors with DOJ’s war crimes accountability team “are working closer than ever before with our Ukrainian counterparts to investigate specific crimes committed by Russian forces, including attacks on civilian targets.”
“At the same time, Congress has expanded our authority to prosecute alleged war criminals who are found in the United States,” he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris said earlier in February that the U.S. had determined that Russia has committed “crimes against humanity” in its war with Ukraine.
“We have examined the evidence,” she said at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. “We know the legal standards. And there is no doubt. These are crimes against humanity.”