Ukraine’s President Volodimir Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska offer their condolences at a memorial service for Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and officials who died in the helicopter crash near kyiv, in kyiv, Ukraine, January 21, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky held an emotional meeting on Saturday morning with the families of those killed in the helicopter crash earlier in the week.
Zelensky spoke with relatives of seven of those killed in Wednesday’s accident in the Brovary area of kyiv, the capital. The helicopter carrying Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi and other senior officials crashed into a kindergarten building in this residential neighborhood, killing Monastyrskyi and a dozen others, including a child on the ground.
Monastyrskyi, who oversaw the country’s police and emergency services, was the highest-ranking official killed since Russia invaded Ukraine. His death, along with that of the rest of the leadership of his ministry and the entire helicopter crew, was the second major calamity in four days to strike Ukraine, after a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the city. of Dnipro, in the southeast of the country, killing dozens of civilians.
A relative observes the place where a helicopter crashed, in the middle of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the town of Brovary, on the outskirts of kyiv, Ukraine, January 19, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
At the somber funeral in kyiv, Zelensky and his wife laid flowers on each of seven coffins draped with the blue and yellow flags of Ukraine. Zelensky then spoke briefly with the families, while a small orchestra played a somber adagio.
The causes of the accident are unknown, but Zelensky previously claimed that it was due to the country being at war. Ruslan Stefanchuk, Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, repeated this opinion after the church service.
“All this would not have happened if it were not for this terrible undeclared war that the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine,” Stefanchuk said. “Therefore, we must remember and not forget these people. Because for Ukraine and Ukrainians, every life lost is a great tragedy.”
Russia’s war in Ukraine, nearing the end of its 11th month, is “in a state of stalemate,” with Ukrainian forces likely making small gains in the north-east near the city of Kreminna while Russian forces “have probably been reconstituting” in the eastern town of Soledar after taking it earlier in the week, Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
Volodimir Zelensky and Olena Zelenska attend a memorial service for Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and officials killed in the helicopter crash near kyiv, in kyiv, Ukraine, January 21, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho DoceCeremony in memory of those who died in the helicopter crash near kyiv, in kyiv, Ukraine, January 21, 2023. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
“There is a realistic chance of local Russian advances” around Bakhmut, an eastern city whose capture would give the Kremlin a long-awaited victory after months of battlefield setbacks, the British ministry said in its regular Twitter update.
Intense fighting for Bakhmut has caused the death of three civilians by Russian shelling in that part of the eastern Donetsk region, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office said on Saturday morning.
In all, five civilians have been killed and 13 wounded by Russian shelling in the past 24 hours in eastern and southern Ukraine, where active fighting continues, Kyrylo Tymoshenko said in a Telegram message.
Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in Bakhmut and other parts of the country’s beleaguered east overnight, the army said in a Facebook update on Saturday morning.
A woman was also killed in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, where Russian forces launched more than 160 shelling attacks overnight, Governor Oleksandr Starukh said in a Telegram message. Twenty-one cities and towns were also attacked, and two other civilians were injured.
(With information from AP)
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