Interior Minister’s helicopter crashes, 14 dead

published on Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 20:04.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky died on Wednesday near Kyiv in a helicopter crash that killed at least 14 people, including a child from a kindergarten, while traveling to the front lines of the war with Russia.

The plane, a Super Puma EC-225 (Airbus Helicopter, ex-Eurocopter) according to its State Service for Emergency Situations (SES), crashed Wednesday morning in Brovary, near Kyiv.

“The kindergarten building was hit, and the fire then spread to the windows of the fourteen-storey building and three cars,” the SES said on Telegram, adding that there were nine people on board, including the minister and the minister. representative.

According to the latest report from SES, there were 14 dead, including one child, and 25 injured in hospital, including eleven children.

On the spot, AFP journalists saw debris near the apartment building, doors, two cars destroyed. And the bodies were wrapped up and carried on stretchers, one by one, to a van.

“I heard a hum, I turned to look out the window, I thought it was (a drone). I saw fire,” said Dmytro Serbine, one of the first to go to help.

This accident, which occurred four days after the Russian missile attack that killed 45 people on the Dnipro, in eastern Ukraine, caused great emotion.

– “Unspeakable pain” by Zelensky –

“Our pain is unspeakable,” said President Volodymyr Zelensky, referring to the fact that the accident happened to the kindergarten and the deaths of the Minister of Internal Affairs, his deputy Yevgeny Ienin, and Secretary of State for Internal Affairs Yuriy Lubkovych.

“The purpose of this flight (to go) to one of the hot spots in our country where fighting is ongoing,” said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of the presidential staff. Different sources claim that the plane was headed for the Dnipro or the Kharkiv region (northeast).

Ukrainian officials, such as Prime Minister Denys Chmygal on Telegram, called the death of 42-year-old Denys Monastyrsky, a former lawyer who joined Volodymyr Zelensky’s party, a “great loss”.

– Condolences from Westerners –

Ganna Malyar, Undersecretary of Defense describes a man who represents the new generation of officials brought to power by President Zelensky.

In Washington, President Joe Biden and his wife Jill “join all those who mourn this heartbreaking tragedy,” the White House said.

In a press release, the presidential couple paid respects to Minister Denys Monastyrsky, “a reformer and a patriot”, and said they were “thought of the dozens of civilians killed or injured”.

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, regretted on Twitter the death of “a dear friend of the European Union”.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the British Prime Minister’s Office in particular offered their condolences.

Russia, which has not commented, has at the same time continued to apply pressure, both on the country’s eastern front where its troops are trying to regain an advantage, and through declarations from the Kremlin.

– Putin “does not hesitate” –

President Vladimir Putin thus assured Wednesday that he had “no doubts” about Russia’s “guaranteed” victory, nearly a year after the start of the operation.

He stated that Russia was facing a “neo-Nazi regime” in Ukraine and said it would continue to “help” the people of Ukraine’s separatist east.

His Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, went further, comparing the actions of Western countries against his country to the Nazi regime’s “final solution” to exterminate the Jews.

“Just as Napoleon mobilized almost all of Europe against the Russian Empire, just as Hitler mobilized and conquered most of the European countries to launch it against the Soviet Union, today the United States has formed a coalition” against Moscow, said Lavrov.

Their task “is the same: a ‘final solution’ to the Russian problem. Just as Hitler wanted to solve the Jewish problem, now Western leaders (…) are saying without ambiguity that Russia must suffer a strategic defeat”, he added.

This statement comes nearly eleven months after the launch of an offensive in Ukraine, where Russian forces have suffered several major setbacks in recent months.

Speaking via videoconference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, President Zelensky also launched a “call for speed” in decision-making for aid to Ukraine, while Germany was particularly reluctant to authorize the delivery of Leopard tanks to the country.

Also in Davos, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that the allies would provide Kyiv with “heavier and more modern” weapons.

In Washington, the spokesman for the National Security Council, John Kirby, stated: “We believe that providing (to the kyiv) modern tanks will significantly enhance Ukraine’s capabilities”.

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