BROVARY, Ukraine — The helicopter crash that killed Ukraine’s interior minister and about a dozen other people outside the capital, Kyiv, on Wednesday is the latest devastating development in the nearly yearlong war that began with Russia’s invasion.
The crash came four days after a Russian missile struck an apartment building in Ukraine’s southeastern city of Dnipro, killing dozens of civilians, including six children. That attack was the deadliest on civilians since the spring.
Authorities continued identifying remains from the crash and warned that the death toll could rise.
What We Know
The crash killed all nine people aboard the helicopter: Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and four other ministry officials, including Monastyrsky’s deputy, Yevhen Yenin, and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych; a national police official and the three crew members. The officials were flying to Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.
The aircraft, owned by the State Emergency Services, struck a kindergarten in the eastern Kyiv suburb of Brovary. A child on the ground was also killed, and at least 25 people were injured, including 11 children.
Monastyrsky is the most senior official killed since Russia invaded nearly 11 months ago. He was in charge of police and emergency services that dealt with the consequences of Russian strikes and demining, political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko told The Associated Press.
The helicopter was a French-manufactured Super Puma, according to a spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force, Yurii Ihnat. It was sold to Ukraine in 2019, but was not part of the equipment that France has provided since the start of the war on Feb. 24, according to a French official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified.
Senior officials routinely travel by helicopter at low altitudes and high speed during the conflict, increasing the inherent dangers associated with the flights.
There was no immediate word on whether the helicopter crash was an accident or directly related to the war. It happened on a foggy morning and no fighting has been reported recently in the capital region. Ukrainian authorities immediately opened an investigation.
The tragedy may prompt Kyiv to institute a rule many countries and companies follow: that more than one top official shouldn’t fly on the same aircraft, political analyst Fesenko said.