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US Justice Department files first-ever US war crimes charges against Russian military

Historic case marks the first US war crimes charges against Russian soldiers.: four Russia-affiliated military personnel face war crimes charges, including torture, for their actions during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
US Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announcing charges against four Russia-affiliated military personnel. The Eastern District of Virginia, US, 6 December 2023. Screenshot: Youtube/The Justice Department

On 6 December, the US Justice Department charged four Russia-affiliated military personnel with war crimes for their involvement in torturing a US national during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. This landmark case marks the first time the US has brought war crimes charges against Russian soldiers.

“Suren Seiranovich Mkrtchyan, 45, Dmitry Budnik, Valerii LNU (last name unknown), and Nazar LNU were each charged in connection with their unlawful detainment of a US national in the context of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The defendants are alleged to have interrogated, severely beaten, and tortured the victim. They also allegedly threatened to kill the victim and conducted a mock execution,” the Justice Department press release reads.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated, “The Justice Department will work for as long as it takes to pursue accountability and justice for Russia’s war of aggression.” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas emphasized that these charges send a clear message to Russia that the US will spare no effort in holding accountable those who violate fundamental human rights.

The indictment alleges that Mkrtchyan and Budnik held commanding positions within the Russian Armed Forces and/or the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, while Valerii and Nazar served as lower-ranking military personnel. It is claimed that these defendants were actively involved in fighting for Russia in Ukraine and, during that time, committed war crimes.

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