By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. prosecutors are working with their European and Ukrainian counterparts to help collect evidence of possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Wednesday.
Justice Department officials this week met with their counterparts at Europol and Eurojust to develop a plan to work together and are separately helping a top Ukrainian prosecutor with evidence collection as well, Garland said.
“This department has a long history of helping to hold accountable those who perpetrate war crimes,” Garland told a news conference on enforcement actions targeting Russian oligarchs and the Russian government.
“Today, we are assisting international efforts to identify and hold accountable those responsible for atrocities in Ukraine,” Garland added. “And we will continue to do so.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha were part of a deliberate Russian campaign to commit atrocities, but offered no evidence to support his assertion.
Russia, which says it launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24 to demilitarize and “denazify” its neighbor, denies targeting civilians and said the deaths were a “monstrous forgery” staged by the West to discredit it.
Grim images emerging from Bucha include a mass grave and bound bodies of people shot at close range, prompting calls for tougher action against Moscow and an international investigation.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)