Washington, D.C. – December 6, 2023
In a landmark move, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed charges against four Russian soldiers for war crimes related to the invasion of Ukraine. The individuals named in the indictment are SurenSeiranovichMkrtchyan, Dmitry Budnik, and two others identified only by their first names, Valerii and Nazar.
The charges stem from the unlawful detainment of a U.S. national during the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as outlined by the DOJ. The indictment, returned in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that the four soldiers interrogated, beat, and tortured an American victim. Shockingly, they even resorted to threatening the victim with a mock execution.
Following the mock execution, the victim, identified as “V-1” in the indictment, was subjected to forced manual labor on behalf of the Russian Armed Forces and/or Donetsk People’s Republic military units. The DOJ clarifies that V-1 had no involvement in the Russia-Ukraine conflict; he was residing in Mylove, a small village in southern Ukraine when he was kidnapped from his home by Russian soldiers.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a Wednesday announcement, expressed the gravity of the charges, stating, “As the world has witnessed the horrors of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, so has the United States Department of Justice.” Garland highlighted the extraordinary nature of the allegations, underscoring that it is the inaugural application of the U.S. war crimes statute against military personnel affiliated with Russia for severe offenses committed against an American citizen.
The charges against Mkrtchyan, Budnik, and the two unnamed Russian soldiers include four counts: conspiracy to commit war crimes, along with three specific war crimes—unlawful confinement of a protected person, inhuman treatment, and torture.
Garland affirmed the Justice Department’s commitment to pursuing accountability and justice for what he characterized as Russia’s war of aggression. “The Justice Department will work for as long as it takes to pursue accountability and justice for Russia’s war of aggression,” he declared.
This development marks a significant step in holding individuals accountable for war crimes committed in the context of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and it signals a strong stance by the United States in condemning such actions on the global stage.