Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pays his respects to victims of a deadly helicopter crash during a farewell ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023. Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, his Deputy Yevhen Yenin, State Secretary Yurii Lubkovych, national police official and the three crew members were killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday in Kyiv suburbs of Brovary. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
21 January 2023

Volodymyr Zelensky honours people killed in helicopter crash in Kyiv

21 January 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has held an emotional meeting with the families of those who died in a helicopter crash in Kyiv earlier this week.

He spoke with family members of seven of those killed in Wednesday’s crash in the Brovary area of the capital.

The helicopter carrying interior minister Denys Monastyrskyi and other senior officials crashed into a nursery school building in the residential suburb, killing him and about a dozen other people, including a child on the ground.

Mr Monastyrskyi, who oversaw the country’s police and emergency services, is the most senior official killed since Russia invaded Ukraine.

His death, along with the rest of his ministry’s leadership and the entire helicopter crew, was the second major calamity in four days for Ukraine, after a Russian missile struck an apartment building in the south-eastern city of Dnipro, killing dozens of civilians.

At the sombre service in Kyiv, Mr Zelensky and his wife laid flowers on the seven coffins draped in the blue and yellow flags of Ukraine. He then spoke briefly with the families as a small orchestra played.

The cause of the crash is not known but Mr Zelensky said earlier that it happened because the country is at war. That view was repeated by Ruslan Stefanchuk, chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, speaking after the service.

“All this would not have happened if not for this terrible and undeclared war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine,” Mr Stefanchuk said. “Therefore, we must remember this and not forget these people. Because for Ukraine and Ukrainians, every lost life is a great tragedy.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine, nearing the end of its 11th month, is “in a state of deadlock”, with Ukrainian forces apparently achieving small gains in the north east, near the town of Kreminna, while Russian forces “have likely been reconstituting” in the eastern town of Soledar after taking it earlier in the week, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said.

“There is a realistic possibility of local Russian advances” around Bakhmut, an eastern city whose capture would give the Kremlin a long-awaited victory after months of battlefield setbacks, the ministry said in its regular update.

Fierce battles for Bakhmut have been raging and three civilians were killed by Russian shelling in that area of the eastern Donetsk region, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office said on Saturday morning.

Five civilians have been killed and 13 wounded by Russian shelling over the past 24 hours in Ukraine’s east and south, where active fighting is ongoing, Kyrylo Tymoshenko said.

Ukrainian forces overnight repelled Russian attacks in Bakhmut and other parts of the country’s embattled east, the military said on Saturday morning.

A 60-year-old woman died after Russian shells hit her home in the north-eastern Kharkiv region, local governor Oleh Syniehubov said. He added that four other people were wounded in the province.

One woman was also killed in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where Russian forces launched more than 160 shelling attacks overnight, governor Oleksandr Starukh said. He added that 21 cities and towns were targeted, and two other civilians were injured.

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