Ukraine helicopter crash kills interior minister, others

Jan 17, 2023, 10:28 AM | Updated: Jan 18, 2023, 4:37 pm
Workers pass the scene where a helicopter crashed on civil infrastructure in Brovary, on the outski...

Workers pass the scene where a helicopter crashed on civil infrastructure in Brovary, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. The chief of Ukraine's National Police says a helicopter crash in a Kyiv suburb has killed 16 people, including Ukraine's interior minister and two children. He said nine of those killed were aboard the emergency services helicopter. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

(AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

BROVARY, Ukraine (AP) — A helicopter carrying Ukraine’s interior minister crashed into a kindergarten in a foggy residential suburb of Kyiv on Wednesday, killing him and about a dozen other people, including a child on the ground, authorities said.

Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, who oversaw the country’s police and emergency services, is the most senior official killed since Russia invaded nearly 11 months ago. His death, along with the rest of his ministry’s leadership and the entire helicopter crew, was the second major calamity in four days to befall Ukraine, after a Russian missile struck an apartment building in the southeastern city of Dnipro, killing dozens of civilians.

There was no immediate word on whether the helicopter crash, which occurred on a foggy morning in the capital’s eastern suburb of Brovary, was an accident or related to the war. Ukrainian authorities immediately opened an investigation. No fighting has been reported recently in the capital region.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by video link — said the crash had a broad connection to the war.

“This is not an accident because it has been due to war and the war has many dimensions, not just on the battlefields,” he said after asking the Davos audience to join him in a standing minute of silence to honor those killed. “There are no accidents at wartime. These are all war results.”

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service, which was operating the French-manufactured Super Puma helicopter, said at least 14 people were killed, including nine on the helicopter, and a child on the ground. It said 25 people were injured, including 11 children. Early official reports gave differing numbers of casualties.

At the scene of the crash and ensuing fire, plastic sheets covered at least four bodies. Workers cleared charred and mangled wreckage lying against an apartment building and in the kindergarten’s playground. Some walls were partly demolished and blackened. The helicopter’s blackened rotors protruded from a destroyed car and rested on the roof of a building’s entrance.

Kyiv regional Gov. Oleksii Kuleba told Ukrainian television that emergency services were still identifying remains and that the death toll could rise.

The crash killed five Interior Ministry officials, one national police official and all three helicopter crew members, the Ukraine National Police said. Monastyrskyi’s deputy Yevhen Yenin and State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yurii Lubkovych were among the dead, the police said.

Monastyrskyi, 42, was in charge of police and emergency services that dealt with the consequences of Russian strikes and de-mining, political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko told The Associated Press.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko has been appointed acting interior minister.

Senior Ukrainian officials routinely travel by helicopter at low altitudes and high speed during the conflict, increasing the inherent dangers associated with the flights. The tragedy may prompt Kyiv to institute a rule many countries and companies follow stating that top officials shouldn’t fly on the same aircraft, Fesenko said.

The officials on the helicopter were due to visit Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, local police chief Volodymyr Tymoshko said, adding on Facebook that they were “not just leaders,” but “friends who I respected.”

The helicopter was sold to Ukraine before the war in 2019, a French defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to be identified, according to ministry policy.

The Security Service of Ukraine is investigating “all possible versions” of the crash, prosecutor general Andriy Kostin said on Telegram.

The crash came at a particularly dark period in the war for Ukraine, just days after the Russian strike on the apartment building in southeastern Ukraine killed 45 people, including six children — the deadliest attack on civilians since the spring.

“The pain is unspeakable,” Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.

“Another very sad day today — new losses,” said his wife, Olena Zelenska, dabbing teary eyes as she responded to the news at the economic conference in Davos, where she was mustering support for Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called the crash “heartbreaking.”

British Home Secretary Suella Braverman called Monastyrskyi “a leading light in supporting the Ukrainian people during (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s illegal invasion.” She said she was “struck by his determination, optimism and patriotism.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is facing pressure to send tanks to Ukraine, tweeted that the crash “shows once again the huge price that Ukraine is having to pay in this war.”

In Wednesday’s other developments:

— Putin defended his invasion by offering a variation on arguments he has used previously. He told a group of veterans that Moscow’s actions were intended to stop a “war” that has raged since 2014 in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists have battled Ukrainian forces.

“All what we are doing today as part of the special military operation is an attempt to stop this war. This is the meaning of our operation — protecting people who live on those territories,” he said.

Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected Russia’s justifications arguments, saying Kyiv posed no threat to Moscow and the invasion was unprovoked.

— Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow’s goals in Ukraine are “determined by Russia’s core legitimate interests.”

“There must be no military infrastructure in Ukraine that poses a direct threat to our country,” Lavrov said at his annual news conference. He claimed the goal of Ukraine’s Western allies is to use the conflict to exhaust Russia.

— Fighting continued in eastern Ukraine around the city of Bakhmut and the nearby salt mining town of Soledar, according to Donetsk Gov. Pavlo Kyrylenko. A total of 14 cities and villages were shelled in the partially occupied Donetsk region in the previous 24 hours, Ukraine’s presidential office said. Two civilians were wounded.

It added that Russian forces also shelled residential areas of the southern city of Kherson, which Kyiv’s military retook in November. Four people were wounded.

___

Associated Press writers Andrew Meldrum in Kyiv, Angela Charlton in Paris and Yuras Karmanau in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

President Joe Biden speaks with members of the press after stepping off Air Force One at Hagerstown...
Associated Press

Balloon bickering over Biden’s actions, China’s intentions

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers on Sunday accused China of deliberating surveilling sensitive U.S. military sites with a suspected spy balloon and said the Biden administration had given Beijing an intelligence opening by not downing the balloon during its high-altitude drift through American airspace. The balloon’s presence in the sky above the United States before […]
1 day ago
Director M. Night Shyamalan attends the "Knock at the Cabin" world premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Cent...
Associated Press

‘Knock at the Cabin’ knocks off ‘Avatar’ at the box office

NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in almost two months, the box office doesn’t belong to blue people. After seven weeks as the top film in theaters, “Avatar: The Way of Water” was finally knocked out of the No. 1 spot by the M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Knock at the Cabin” and the […]
1 day ago
Pope Francis meets the journalists during an airborne press conference aboard the airplane directed...
Associated Press

Pope hits back at critics who used Pope Benedict XVI

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis accused some of his critics Sunday of taking advantage of Pope Benedict XVI’s death to score ideological points in the latest salvo in the partisan divide of the Catholic Church. During an airborne news conference returning from South Sudan, Francis was asked about the criticism that accelerated […]
1 day ago
NASCAR Cup Series drivers Bubba Wallace (23) and Alex Bowman (48) participate in a practice session...
Associated Press

Ally Financial expands NASCAR spend with 2 new partnerships

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ally Financial has expanded its growing portfolio as a top NASCAR sponsor with a deal to become the official bank of the stock car series and NASCAR-owned race tracks. The multiyear deal was announced Sunday ahead of NASCAR’s exhibition extravaganza at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and led to the creation […]
1 day ago
Pope Francis meets the journalists during an airborne press conference aboard the airplane directed...
Associated Press

Pope planning India, Mongolia trips after Lisbon, Marseille

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis said Sunday he is planning to visit India next year and is studying a possible trip to Mongolia later in 2023 in what would be a first for a pope. Francis outlined his upcoming travel schedule during his flight back to Rome from South Sudan. He confirmed […]
1 day ago
President Joe Biden speaks at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting, Friday, Feb. 3, 202...
Associated Press

Biden’s State of the Union to tout policy wins on economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will use his second State of the Union address on Tuesday to remind Americans of how their lives have been improved over his first two years in office, as he tries to confront pessimism in the country and navigate the tricky politics of a newly divided Washington. Rather than […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Ukraine helicopter crash kills interior minister, others