Helicopter crash kills Ukraine's Interior Minister among several others Helicopter crash kills Ukraine's Interior Minister among several others  (AFP or licensors)

Helicopter crash kills Ukraine's Interior Minister and many others

Authorities say as many as 17 people, including Ukraine's interior ministry's leadership and four children, were killed in a helicopter crash near a nursery in a suburb of Kyiv. The top officials' deaths undermined Ukraine's efforts to halt increased attacks by Russia's invading army.

By Stefan J. Bos

Residents watched in shock. Some cried. Others rushed to the site where moments ago, a helicopter crashed. But there was little they could do.  

Among those confirmed dead was Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, who was just 42 years old.

Authorities said he died alongside his first deputy minister, Yevhen Yenin, state secretary, Yuri Lubkovych, their assistants, and others, including children and crew members.  

Monastyrsky, one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's longest-serving political advisers, is the highest-profile Ukrainian casualty since the war began.

He is among over a dozen people who died Wednesday in the helicopter crash near a kindergarten and apartment blocks in the suburb of Brovary, east of Kyiv, the capital.

Dozens more were injured, among them many children. A visibly upset man recalled that "the helicopter made three circles over the Fora supermarket chain. It flew into the center, descended sharply, hit it, caught fire, and that was it."

President Zelensky described the early Wednesday crash as "a terrible tragedy" and a "black morning." Britain and the United States were among others expressing shock and condolences over the tragedy.

There were no immediate indications that the helicopter had been attacked by Russia's military, which invaded Ukraine in February last year.

But Ukraine's SBU state security service said it was following several possible causes for the crash, including sabotage and a technical malfunction or breach of flight rules.

With key security figures now dead, it became even more challenging for Ukraine to end relentless Russian attacks on infrastructure and other civilian sites.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis condemned a Russian missile strike on an apartment building that killed 45 people in the eastern city of Dnipro at the weekend. The Pope called the attack, which also killed young children, "heartbreaking."

Yet there were no signs that peace would emerge soon in the nearly 11 month-conflict. Though his military suffered massive casualties, Russian Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he has "no doubt" that a Russian victory in Ukraine is "inevitable."

He told workers at a weapons factory in St Petersburg that Moscow's actions in Ukraine were intended to stop a "war" raging in eastern Ukraine for many years.

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18 January 2023, 17:10