The Ukrainian Interior Minister and two other senior officials were killed in a helicopter crash outside Kyiv on the morning of January 18, according to local and other officials.
At least 17 people, including four children, were killed in a crash reportedly near a nursery school in the Brawbury district, northeast of the capital.
At the time of writing, the cause of the crash was unknown.
Nine of the dead were passengers of the ill-fated French-made Super Puma helicopter, and another six died on the ground, according to local authorities.
At least one nearby building was set ablaze in the crash, and another 25 people, including several children, were reported injured.
Local officials have since confirmed that Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, who was appointed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2021, was among those killed.
The minister’s first deputy, Evheny Yenin, and the ministry’s secretary of state, were also killed in the crash, according to National Police Chief Ihor Klimenko.
“As a result of the crash in Brovary, the leader of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine was killed,” Klimenko said, adding that the helicopter belonged to the State Emergency Service.
Monastyrsky, 42, a full-time lawyer, won a seat in the 2019 Ukrainian parliamentary elections for Zelensky’s People’s Servants party.
After serving as chairman of the parliamentary law enforcement committee, he became minister of the interior after Arsen Avakov resigned in July 2021.
UK Home Secretary Suera Braverman took to Twitter to describe Monastirsky as a “leading light in helping the people of Ukraine”. [Russian President Vladimir] Putin trespassing. “
Until now, Ukrainian officials have refrained from attributing the fatal helicopter crash to a Russian attack.
“It’s too early to talk about the cause,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuri Inat said in televised comments.
A spokesperson said the investigation could take weeks.
The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office said it had opened an investigation and was looking at all possible causes.
The crash was covered by Russian media, but Moscow has so far declined to issue an official statement on the incident.
Last week, at least 45 people were killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the eastern-central Ukraine city of Dnipro.
Kyiv and its allies have condemned the incident, but Russian officials say the missile was shot down by a Ukrainian air defense system stationed in a residential area.
“A Russian missile targeting an energy facility was shot down by Ukrainian air defenses,” Russia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Vasily Nebenzia said on January 17.
“The missile fell on a residential area because an air defense launcher was placed in a residential area, in violation of the norms of international humanitarian law,” Nebenzha said at a UN Security Council meeting.
The Epoch Times was unable to confirm this claim.
Since mid-October, the Russian military has conducted frequent drone and artillery strikes against Ukrainian energy installations across the country, including in and around the capital.
Ukrainian officials say at least half of Ukraine’s total energy infrastructure has been damaged by repeated barrages, causing blackouts and widespread energy disruptions.
Kyiv and its allies argue that the Russian air strikes were intended to increase pressure on civilians and should therefore be considered a “war crime”.
Moscow says its forces use high-precision munitions to avoid civilian casualties and that the strikes are purely military.
Last September, Moscow officially incorporated four regions of Ukraine into the Russian Federation after holding a controversial referendum.
Ukraine and its Western supporters categorically reject the legitimacy of the move, claiming it amounts to an illegal annexation of territory by Russia.
Backed by powerful allies, Kyiv has pledged to recover four lost territories, along with the Black Sea region of Crimea, which Russia also annexed in 2014.
Reuters contributed to this report.