Ukraine: criminal investigation into the crash of the Interior Minister's helicopter

Ukraine: criminal investigation into Minister's helicopter crash Interior

DAY

The Ukrainian authorities continued on Thursday the criminal investigation ordered the day before by President Volodymyr Zelensky, after the death of Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky in the crash of his helicopter which left at least 14 dead.  

“The Security Service of Ukraine has opened a criminal investigation into this terrible event,” Mr. Zelensky said in a speech Wednesday evening.

“I have instructed the head of the Security Service of the 'Ukraine, in cooperation with all other authorized bodies, to clarify all the circumstances of the disaster,' he further specified.

The helicopter, a Super Puma EC-225 (Airbus Helicopters ) according to the State Service for Emergency Situations (SES) to which he belonged, crashed on Wednesday morning in Brovary, near kyiv.

According to the same source, nine people were on board the aircraft, including the minister and his deputy. According to a latest report attributed to the same source, 14 people died, including a child, and 25 injured are hospitalized, including 11 children.

“The head of the national police of Ukraine will be at the head of the ministry at this time. We also distributed the responsibilities that fell to the minister in the framework of our defense operation and ensuring state security,” Volodymyr Zelensky added.

On the spot, AFP journalists saw debris near apartment buildings, a door, two crushed cars. And bodies wrapped up and taken on a stretcher, one by one, to a van.

Our pain is unspeakable”

This crash, came four days after a Russian missile strike that left 45 dead in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine, sparked strong emotions.

Ukrainian officials, like Prime Minister Denys Chmygal on Telegram, called the death of 42-year-old Denys Monastyrsky, a former lawyer who joined Volodymyr Zelensky's party, a “great loss”.

In Washington , President Joe Biden and his wife Jill “mourn with all who are bereaved by this heartbreaking tragedy,” the White House said. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, mourned on Twitter the death of “a great friend of the EU”.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assured that the member countries of his organization would provide Kyiv with “heavier and more modern” weapons.

The Ukraine Contact Group, which brings together some 50 countries led by the United States, is meeting on Friday at the US base in Ramstein in Germany to coordinate continued aid to Kyiv. 

“The main message will be increased support with heavier and more modern weapons”, according to Mr. Stoltenberg.

Shortly before, the Ukrainian president had launched by videoconference a “call for speed” in decision-making to help Ukraine, while Germany in particular is reluctant to authorize the delivery of Leopard tanks to the country.

“Tyranny advances faster than democracies”, lamented Volodymyr Zelensky. “The time the free world uses to think is used by a terrorist state to kill.”

The Leopards are among the modern, Western-designed heavy tanks that kyiv is clamoring for from its allies and which experts say will be crucial in the coming battles in eastern Ukraine.

However , the United States is not ready to provide Ukraine with its most advanced heavy tanks, the Abrams, a senior Pentagon official said on Wednesday, justifying the refusal with maintenance and training issues.

Russia, whose forces have suffered huge losses and major military setbacks in recent months, meanwhile continued to exert pressure, both on the front in eastern Ukraine, where its army tries to regain the advantage, only by declarations from the Kremlin.

On the humanitarian level, the new president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, is going to Moscow on Thursday and Friday to meet Russian government officials and discuss urgent humanitarian needs and the access to prisoners of war, a trip that follows his mission to Ukraine in December, according to a press release.