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Kyiv is investigating a helicopter crash that killed Interior Minister Monastyrsky

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On Thursday, Ukrainian authorities launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a helicopter crash that killed the country’s interior minister and 13 others.

Wednesday’s crash outside Kyiv came as the NATO chief told the annual World Economic Forum in Davos that allies were determined to provide “heavier weapons” to the war-torn country.

Ukraine has not claimed direct Russian involvement in the helicopter crash, but President Volodymyr Zelensky has said the tragedy was a consequence of the war.

“There are no accidents in war. These are all results of war,” Zelensky said in English via video link in Davos.

He also renewed calls for modern, Western-designed heavy tanks, which analysts say are needed to advance entrenched defensive lines in eastern Ukraine.

In a semi-veiled reference to Germany, where Chancellor Olaf Scholz is weighing whether to green-light the export of the highly regarded Leopard tanks, Zelensky issued a “call for speed”.

“The time that the free-thinking world uses is used by the terrorist state to kill,” Zelensky told delegates in Davos.

The statement came after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would provide “more advanced support, heavier weapons, more modern weapons because this is a fight for our values.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said the US wasn’t “there yet” when it came to supplying advanced Abrams tanks to Ukraine, though he didn’t completely close the door on a future shift.

“The children were crying.”

The helicopter carrying Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky crashed next to a kindergarten and an apartment building in Brovary, a commuter town for the capital Kyiv that was the scene of heavy fighting with Russian forces last year.

In his evening address to the nation, Zelensky said 14 people were killed, including Monastyrski, other ministry officials and a child. Another 25 people, including 11 children, were injured.

He added that an investigation had been opened “to clarify all the circumstances of the disaster.”

“Minister Denis Monastyrsky, his deputy Yvhen Yenin and their colleagues who died in the accident are not people who can be easily replaced,” Zelensky said. “It’s a really huge loss for the country. My condolences to the families.”

Dmytro Serpin, who was in his apartment when the helicopter crashed, rushed to the children’s aid as soon as he saw flames rising above the kindergarten.

“They were looking for their parents and the children were crying… Their faces were cut and covered in blood,” Serbin told AFP.

“We took out a girl. I wrapped her in a jacket, her face hurt … She didn’t tremble, she didn’t cry.”

Serpin told AFP that baby Paulina was so badly injured that her father did not immediately recognize her.

Heartbreaking tragedy

Amateur photos circulating on social media of the immediate aftermath captured screams and a large fire.

It was not immediately clear where the helicopter was headed.

The presidency said it was heading to frontline areas, while Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said it was heading to the site of a missile attack in Dnipro.

Zelensky said information about the circumstances of the crash would be made available “once the obvious facts are established”.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement that it was a “heartbreaking tragedy,” calling Monastyrsky a “reformer and patriot.”

“We have no idea at this time what caused this incident,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, told reporters.

Britain said: “Ukrainians will remain side (victims) as long as (Russian President Vladimir) Putin continues his needless war.”

Meanwhile, Berlin offered “German support in determining the causes of the helicopter crash.”

“a good creative person”

Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, paid tribute to Monastyrsky as “a young, very creative, kind person…always active in supporting and defending the lives of our citizens”.

The 42-year-old lawyer had held the post of Minister of Interior of Ukraine as of July 2021.

He was a key member of Zelensky’s party and was married with two children.

Airline accidents are fairly common in Ukraine.

In one of the deadliest accidents in recent times, 26 people, most of them military students, died when their plane crashed near the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in September 2020.

The town of Brovary, 20 km (12 miles) northeast of Kyiv, was among the urban centers around the capital that Russian forces tried to seize after last year’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Russian question”

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov likened Western policies toward Russia to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution” plan for genocide against the Jewish people.

“The task is the same: the final solution of the Russian question. Just as Hitler wanted to finally solve the Jewish question,” Lavrov said.

Canada’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian ambassador to protest what it described as “Lavrov’s anti-Semitic comments” as well as to condemn the recent Russian strike on an apartment building in Ukraine’s Dnipro that killed at least 45 people.

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