A helicopter crashed in fog near a kindergarten outside Kyiv on Wednesday, killed 18 people, including Ukraine’s interior minister. President Volodymyr Zelensky named it a “terrible tragedy,” before calling for an investigation.
The crash set off a large fire, and an entire side of the local kindergarten building was charred. The Kyiv region’s governor said children and staff had been inside at the time of the crash shortly after 8 a.m.
Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi died along with his first deputy, Yevheniy Yenin, and the ministry’s state secretary. Monastyrskyi was 42 and had been Interior Minister since July 2021.
Ukrainian officials have not suggested the crash was an attack by Russian forces waging war in Ukraine, and Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said it could take several weeks to investigate the disaster.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said it was considering several possible causes, including a breach of flight rules, a technical malfunction, and the intentional destruction of the helicopter.
The crash was another blow to Ukraine, days after 45 people were killed in an apartment block hit during a missile attack on the east-central city of Dnipro. At least 17 people remain missing in Dnipro and 12 bodies have yet to be identified. Another 25 people are recovering in the hospital.
Following the helicopter crash, the government quickly named national police chief Ihor Klymenko as Acting Interior Minister.
The State Emergency Service put the death toll at 18, including the three helicopter crew and six others on board. One child was killed on the ground and 11 other children were among 25 injured people, it said.
Bidens send condolences following helicopter crash
US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden expressed their condolences to the families of those killed in the helicopter crash in Ukraine.
“Our hearts are with the dozens of civilians who were killed or injured, including precious children, and their families,” the first couple wrote in a statement.
The Bidens highlighted the work of Denys Monastyrsky, calling him a “reformer and patriot,” and saying he “championed the will of the Ukrainian people.”
“We will continue to honor that legacy through efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s institutions, and in our unfailing partnership with the people of Ukraine to keep the flame of freedom bright,” the Bidens wrote.
NATO warns Russia is preparing for a long war in Ukraine, vows to be ready
Russia is preparing for an extended war, so NATO must get ready “for the long haul” and support Ukraine for as long as it takes, the alliance’s deputy secretary general told top military chiefs from across Europe.
Speaking at the opening of the military chiefs’ meeting in Brussels, Mircea Geoana said NATO nations must invest more in defense, ramp up military industrial manufacturing, and harness new technologies to prepare for future wars.
As Russia’s war on Ukraine nears the one-year mark, NATO chiefs are expected to discuss how allies can expand the delivery of weapons, training and support to Ukraine in the coming months, and how they can further shore up their own defenses.
“We have no indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goals have changed,” said Geoana, adding that Russia has mobilized more than 200,000 additional troops. “So we must be prepared for the long haul. 2023 will be a difficult year, and we need to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Putin says war victory is ‘inevitable’ as NATO chief calls for more weapons for Kyiv
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that victory in the war in Ukraine was “inevitable,” while NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin must realize he cannot win on the battlefield.
Speaking to workers at a weapons factory in St. Petersburg, Putin said “victory is assured, I have no doubt about it,” state news agency Tass reported. Putin made the comments on the same day on which he commemorated the 80th anniversary of Soviet forces breaking the Nazi siege of Leningrad (modern-day St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown).
Meanwhile, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commented Wednesday that we have reached a “pivotal moment” in the war.
“President Putin has shown no sign of preparing for peace and therefore he must realize he cannot win on the battlefield. This is a pivotal moment in the war, and highlights the need for a significant increase in support for Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“If we want a negotiated peaceful solution tomorrow, we need to provide more weapons today.”
Zelensky Pleads for Western Tanks “Before Russia’s Next Offensive”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told delegates at Davos that Western countries should send tanks before Russia’s next offensive.
His comments come as analysts fear the Kremlin could soon launch a new mobilization drive, and once again put pressure on the country’s Western allies to deliver heavily armored vehicles to Kyiv.
Speaking via videoconference, Zelensky said, “Mobilization of the world must outpace the next military mobilization of our joint enemy.”
“The supplying of Ukraine with air defense systems must outpace Russia’s next missile attacks. The supplies of Western tanks must outpace another invasion of Russian tanks,” he said.