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What we know about the helicopter crash that killed three Ukrainian officials

They are the first senior government figures to be killed or injured since Russia’s brutal invasion began.

By Ido Vock

BERLIN – Three Ukrainian officials have become the first senior government figures to die since Russia invaded Ukraine 11 months ago. The minister of internal affairs, Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy, Yevhen Yenin, and Yurii Lubkovych, the state secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, are among at least 15 people who were killed in a helicopter crash in the Kyiv region on 18 January, according to Ukraine’s National Police. The 42-year-old Monastyrskyi was responsible for policing and security in Ukraine.

The helicopter crashed between a kindergarten and a residential building, killing and injuring several children, according to authorities. Footage from the scene shows burning debris and bodies covered in emergency blankets.

The helicopter was travelling to the front line, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office. “The purpose of the helicopter flight was to carry out work in one of the hotspots of our country where hostilities are ongoing. The interior minister was heading there,” Tymoshenko said on local television. However, the town of Brovary, near the capital, is in a region that has not seen active fighting for months.

The cause of the crash remains unknown. Anton Gerashchenko, who was an adviser to Monastyrskyi, wrote on the Telegram messaging app that possible causes could include “sabotage, a technical malfunction or a violation of flight safety regulations”. Authorities have said the SBU, Ukraine’s security service, are investigating the crash.

If the crash was an accident, poor visibility may have been a factor. Some early reports in the Ukrainian media indicate that the area of the crash was blanketed in heavy fog, possibly causing the pilot to lose their bearings and collide with a building.

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Questions will inevitably be asked about why three high-ranking members of the government were travelling on the same aircraft during wartime. The Ministry of Internal Affairs is now deprived of three of its most senior officials at a critical time for Ukraine’s war effort. At the same time, the fact that the three officials are among the first senior government figures to be killed or injured since Russia’s brutal invasion began highlights how successful Ukraine has been at ensuring the safety of its leaders up to now.

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[See also: The Kremlin’s theory of victory]

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