U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday that the Biden administration supports legislation that calls for some of the proceeds being seized from Russian oligarchs to go “directly to Ukraine.”
“That’s not the current circumstance,” Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee as lawmakers questioned him about the property and assets the Justice Department is seizing from close wealthy associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin after his February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
The Justice Department, headed by Garland, launched a new unit, called KleptoCapture, to help enforce sanctions against Russian government officials and oligarchs, targeting their yachts, jets, real estate and other assets.
The expressed U.S. hope was that the Putin allies might pressure him to end his war against Ukraine. Some key Russian figures have voiced opposition to the invasion, but the Russian attacks continue, now concentrated in eastern Ukraine after Moscow failed to topple Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or seize the capital of Kyiv.
The Justice Department said earlier this month that its first seizure was a $90 million, 77-meter luxury yacht that Spanish law enforcement took control of at Washington’s request.
Garland condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine during his testimony, saying that the “horrible atrocities” that are being seen in videos and photos from the country “are the kinds of things anybody growing up in the 20th century never expected to see in the 21st again.”