At least 14 people including Ukraine’s interior minister, Denys Monastyrskiy, other senior officials and one child have been killed after their helicopter crashed into a kindergarten just outside Kyiv. A number of children at the school in Brovary, a suburb of the capital, were among the injured after the helicopter hit the building’s roof. Officials gave no immediate account of the cause of the crash.
Monastyrskiy, who was responsible for the police and security inside Ukraine, is the most senior Ukrainian official to die since the war began. The helicopter appears to have been travelling to a frontline area in foggy conditions when it came down in an area where there are a number of tall buildings. Video footage from the scene of the crash showed a large area around the school on fire in the immediate aftermath of the impact, and bodies lying in the street outside.
Volodymr Zelenskiy has described this morning’s crash as “a terrible tragedy” and a “black morning”. Writing on Telegram, Ukraine’s president said “The exact number of victims of the tragedy is currently being established. Among them are minister of internal affairs of Ukraine Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy Yevhen Yenin, state secretary of the ministry of internal affairs Yuri Lubkovych, their assistants and the helicopter crew. 25 people were injured, including ten children. As of this minute, three children died. The pain is unspeakable. I have instructed the security service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the national police of Ukraine and other authorised bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened.”
Ukraine’s national police chief, Ihor Klymenko, has been appointed acting interior minister, prime minister Denys Shmyhal said.
The UK’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly paid tribute to Monastyrskiy, describing him as “a true friend of the UK”, saying “we are ready to support Ukraine in whatever way we can”. The US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget A Brink has said she is “shocked and saddened” by the news. The EU’s ambassador to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, said the crash victims were “excellent cooperation partners and friends”.
Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, has said in Brussels that he expects Germany will sign off on sending tanks to Ukraine at a key meeting of the Ukraine defence contact group at the Ramstein airbase in Germany on Friday.
Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the Russian missile strike on an apartment building that killed 45 people in Dnipro at the weekend, including young children, as heartbreaking.
A search and rescue operation in the rubble of Saturday’s Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro has been completed, authorities said. The death toll currently stands at 45, including a child, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region military administration said. At least 19 people are still missing and a further 79 people injured, according to local officials.
Russia announced Tuesday it will make “major changes” to its armed forces from 2023-26, promising to shake up its military structure after months of setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine. In addition to administrative changes, the defence ministry said it would strengthen the combat capabilities of its naval, aerospace and strategic missile forces. The Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the changes had been made necessary by the “proxy war” being conducted in Ukraine by the west.
More than 9,000 civilians, including 453 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last February according to Ukraine. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential staff, said at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, “We will not forgive a single [act of] torture or life taken. Each criminal will be held accountable.”,” adding that Ukraine wanted a special international tribunal to try Russian political leaders and reparations for the destruction caused by Russia’s invasion.
The UN has confirmed a lower number of civilian deaths, saying that 7,000 have been killed over the course of the war so far, but that the true toll is likely “considerably higher”. The Office of the UN high commissioner for Human Rights said on Monday it had confirmed 7,031 civilian deaths.
Ukraine’s top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, spoke to his US counterpart, General Mark Milley, face to face near the Ukraine-Poland border for the first time on Tuesday. Milley, who is the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met for a couple of hours with Zaluzhnyi at an undisclosed location in south-eastern Poland on Tuesday. The pair have talked frequently about Ukraine’s military needs and the state of the war over the past year but had never met.