September 28, 2023

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Ukraine has set up a committee to investigate the cause of a helicopter crash that killed 14 people including the country’s interior minister this week, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force said on Thursday, but it will likely take weeks to reach a conclusion.

The helicopter went down on Wednesday near a kindergarten and an apartment building in the small town of Brovary outside Kyiv, causing severe damage and Panic between parents and children who were in school. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called it a “terrible tragedy”.

One of Zelensky’s trusted advisors was the Minister of the Interior, Denis Monasterysky. The incident left a vacuum at the top of the ministry as Kyiv prepares for a possible Russian offensive in the spring and is being barrageed by missile and drone attacks on its energy infrastructure.

Deputy Minister of Health Irina Mikichak said that Ukraine will send six survivors of the accident abroad to receive treatment for burns. She said the six, including children, are the “most difficult and complex cases” after the accident, although she added in an appearance on Ukrainian television that “none of them is in a critical or life-threatening condition”.

It added that they had already been transferred to a burns unit in a hospital in the capital, without giving details of their destination. Ukraine’s state emergency service said on Wednesday that 25 people were being treated in hospital, including 11 children.

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The officials on board the helicopter were heading to a combat zone, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy chief of the Ukrainian president’s office. Also killed, according to the Verkhovna Rada, was Yevgen Yenin, the first deputy minister of internal affairs. and Yuriy Lobkovich, State Secretary in the Ministry.

The exact cause of the collision—whether mechanical failure, pilot error, environmental factors, or sabotage—remains unknown. Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said on Ukrainian television Thursday that the investigative committee “will take a lot of time” to reach its conclusion.

“Every part of the helicopter is collected, every detail that can say something, give more information about what happened,” he said. “It is not a matter of several days. It is necessary to fully establish and learn the details of what happened that day.”

The incident came as Kyiv renewed its diplomatic push to acquire some of the deadliest weapons from allies, who worry that the Ukrainian military lacks time to break the stalemate with Russian forces before Moscow launches another ground assault.

Monastryski, the highest-ranking Ukrainian government official to die since the Russian invasion in February, oversaw tens of thousands of Ukrainians fighting to defend their country as part of the police, national guard and border units.

He also directed rescue and recovery efforts this week in Dnipro, where A Russian missile killed 45 people In one of the most violent attacks on civilians in the war, which lasted nearly a year.

In his evening address on Wednesday, Mr. Zelensky said that Mr. Monastyrski’s responsibilities had been redistributed and that the country’s national police chief, Ihor Klimenko, would lead the ministry until a replacement was chosen.