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Russia-Ukraine war latest: Zelenskiy says helicopter crash that killed at least 16 is ‘terrible tragedy’

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Vladimir Putin has said he has “no doubt” that a Russian victory in Ukraine is “inevitable” while addressing workers during a visit to a weapons factory in St Petersburg today.

The Russian leader also claimed Moscow’s actions in Ukraine are intended to stop a “war” that has been raging in eastern Ukraine for many years.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony in St Petersburg Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath-laying ceremony in St Petersburg, Russia. Photograph: Getty Images

While attending a meeting with veterans in his home town, he said Russia has long sought to negotiate a settlement to the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas, where Moscow-backed separatists have been battling Ukrainian forces since 2014.

He said:

Large-scale combat operations involving heavy weapons, artillery, tanks and aircraft haven’t stopped in Donbas since 2014. All that we are doing today, as part of the special military operation, is an attempt to stop this war. This is the meaning of our operation – protecting people who live on those territories.

Describing Ukraine’s east as Russia’s “historic territories”, he said sending troops into Ukraine on 24 February last year was necessary to protect Russian speakers and conduct “demilitarisation” and “denazification” of Ukraine to prevent it from posing a threat to Russia.

Ukraine and the west have rejected Putin’s stated objectives of demilitarising and “denazifying” the country as a pretext for a war of choice and unprovoked aggression.

The death toll from this morning’s helicopter crash near a nursery outside Kyiv has now been updated to 16, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

Among the 16 dead are Ukraine’s interior minister, Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy, Yevheniy Yenin, other senior officials, and three children.

Regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba had earlier said that 18 people had been killed but Tymoshenko later announced a death toll of 16.

He said 30 others had been injured, including 12 children. Many had burns, officials said.

Nine of the people confirmed dead were on board the helicopter, the police chief and emergency services said.

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, has described this morning’s helicopter crash which has claimed the lives of interior minister, Denys Monastyrskyi, and several children, as a “horrible day for Ukraine”.

Horrible day for 🇺🇦. In helicopter crash we lost the Interior Minister and his colleagues – but the biggest tragedy is a death of children. They have faith that we, as adults, are able to protect them. My thoughts are with the victims’ families. Wish the injured speedy recovery.

— Олена Зеленська (@ZelenskaUA) January 18, 2023

The “biggest tragedy” from the crash in Brovary “is a death of children”, Zelenska wrote on Twitter, adding:

They have faith that we, as adults, are able to protect them. My thoughts are with the victims’ families.

  • At least 15 people including Ukraine’s interior minister, Denys Monastyrskiy, other senior officials and three children have been killed after their helicopter crashed into a kindergarten just outside Kyiv. A number of children at the school in Brovary, a suburb of the capital, were among the injured after the helicopter hit the building’s roof. Officials gave no immediate account of the cause of the crash.

  • Monastyrskiy, who was responsible for the police and security inside Ukraine, is the most senior Ukrainian official to die since the war began.

  • Volodymr Zelenskiy has described this morning’s crash as “a terrible tragedy” and a “black morning”. Writing on Telegram, Ukraine’s president said “The exact number of victims of the tragedy is currently being established. Among them are the minister of internal affairs of Ukraine, Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy Yevhen Yenin, state secretary of the ministry of internal affairs Yuri Lubkovych, their assistants and the helicopter crew. 25 people were injured, including ten children. As of this minute, three children died. The pain is unspeakable. I have instructed the security service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the national police of Ukraine and other authorised bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened.”

  • The UK’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, paid tribute to Monastyrskiy, describing him as “a true friend of the UK”, saying “we are ready to support Ukraine in whatever way we can”. The US ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget A Brink, has said she is “shocked and saddened” by the news. The EU’s ambassador to Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, said the crash victims were “excellent cooperation partners and friends”.

Footage shows immediate aftermath of fatal helicopter crash in Ukraine – video

  • Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, has said in Brussels that he expects Germany will sign off on sending tanks to Ukraine at a key meeting of the Ukraine defence contact group at the Ramstein airbase in Germany on Friday.

  • Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned the Russian missile strike on an apartment building that killed 45 people in Dnipro at the weekend, including young children, as heartbreaking.

  • A search and rescue operation in the rubble of Saturday’s Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro has been completed, authorities said. The death toll currently stands at 45, including a child, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region military administration said. At least 19 people are still missing and a further 79 people injured, according to local officials.

Isobel Koshiw in Kyiv and Peter Beaumont report for the Guardian:

At least 15 people including Ukraine’s interior minister, Denys Monastyrskiy, other senior officials and three children have been killed after their helicopter crashed into a kindergarten just outside Kyiv.

A number of children at the school in Brovary, a suburb of the capital, were among the injured after the helicopter hit the building’s roof.

Officials gave no immediate account of the cause of the crash and there was no immediate comment from Russia, which invaded Ukraine last February.

Monastyrskiy, who was responsible for the police and security inside Ukraine, is the most senior Ukrainian official to die since the war began. The national police chief, Ihor Klymenko, said Monastyrskiy had been killed along with his deputy and other senior ministry officials.

An earlier death toll of 18, was given by regional governor of Kyiv, Oleksiy Kuleba – and reported earlier in this live blog – but has been revised down by authorities.

The helicopter appears to have been travelling to a frontline area in foggy conditions when it came down in an area where there are a number of tall buildings.

Firefighters work near the site where a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, outside the capital Kyiv.

Firefighters work near the site where a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, outside the capital Kyiv. Photograph: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Volodymr Zelenskiy has described this morning’s helicopter crash in Brovary which has claimed the lives of interior minister Denys Monastyrskyi and several of his team as “a terrible tragedy” and a “black morning”.

Writing on Telegram, Ukraine’s president said: “Today, a terrible tragedy occurred in Brovary, Kyiv region. A state emergency services helicopter crashed, and a fire broke out at the crash site.

“The exact number of victims of the tragedy is currently being established. Among them are minister of internal affairs of Ukraine Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy Yevhen Yenin, state secretary of the ministry of internal affairs Yuri Lubkovych, their assistants and the helicopter crew.

“25 people were injured, including ten children. As of this minute, three children died. The pain is unspeakable. The helicopter fell on the territory of one of the kindergartens.

“I have instructed the security service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the national police of Ukraine and other authorised bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened. All services are working on the scene of the tragedy.”

Zelenskiy’s message concludes “My condolences to all the families and friends of the victims. Denys, Yevhen, Yuri, the team of the ministry of internal affairs … true patriots of Ukraine. May they rest in peace. May all those whose lives were taken this black morning rest in peace.”

Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of Kyiv region, has said three children are among 18 dead in the helicopter crash at Brovary in the region.

He has posted to Telegram.

Tragedy in Brovary. The number of victims increased. As of 10.30am — 18 dead, including three children. It is known about 29 wounded, including 15 children. All necessary assistance is provided to the victims. All emergency services are on site.

Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the minister of the interior who has been killed in the crash, has posted an unverified video clip of the site of the crash, which shows flames enveloping a building with wreckage to the side of it. He has also published a tribute to the government officials who have been killed in the crash, writing:

My friends, statesmen of Ukraine – minister of internal affairs Denys Monastyrskiy, Yevhen Yenin and Yuriy Lubkovych died in a helicopter crash of the State Emergency Service in Brovary. Everyone on board the helicopter also died. Everyone who was on board the helicopter were patriots of Ukraine, each defended and strengthened Ukraine in their place. We will always remember you. Your families will always be under the protection of friends and the state. Eternal memory to you, friends.

My friends, statesmen Denys Monastyrskyi, Yevhen Yenin, Yurii Lubkovych, everyone who was on board of that helicopter, were patriots who worked to make Ukraine stronger.We will always remember you. Your families will be cared for.

Eternal memory to my friends. pic.twitter.com/SdHfujCUAI

— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) January 18, 2023

Ukraine’s interior minister Denys Monastyrskiy is among the dead in a helicopter crash near a kindergarten in Brovary, Kyiv region which has also claimed the lives of two children, according to police reports.

Monastyrsky’s deputy and other interior ministry officials are also reported to be among the dead. The Ukrainian police channel on Telegram quoted police chief Ihor Klymenko saying:

This morning, 18 January, a helicopter of the State Emergency Service crashed in Brovary. As a result of the crash, the leadership of the ministry of internal affairs died: the minister, the first deputy minister and the state secretary.

In total, 16 people are known to have died, including two children. Of them, nine were on board the helicopter.

22 victims are in hospital, including ten children. All emergency services work on the site. The inspection of the scene is ongoing.

Sixteen people have been killed in a helicopter crash in the town of Brovary, in the Kyiv region. The helicopter came down near a kindergarten that was in use at the time, and two children are reported to be among the dead. Another ten children are said to be among 22 people who have been hospitalised.

State broadcaster Suspilne, quoting police officials, report that nine of the dead were on board the helicopter, and that the victims include officials from Ukraine’s interior ministry. Some media sources are reporting that the dead include Ukraine’s interior minister Denys Monastyrskiy and his first deputy Yevhen Yenin, but this is yet to be officially confirmed by the government.

Unverified video posted to social media shows a building in flames, and still images appear to show at least one body on the ground amid the wreckage.

Suspilne reports that the helicopter belonged to Ukraine’s state emergency services, although many of the details of the incident remain unconfirmed at the moment.

A helicopter has crashed near a kindergarten and residential buildings in the town of Brovary in Kyiv region, according to reports.

Oleksiy Kuleba, governor of Kyiv, has posted to Telegram to say:

In the city of Brovary, a helicopter fell near a kindergarten and a residential building. At the time of the tragedy, children and employees of the institution were in the kindergarten. At this point, everyone was evacuated. There are victims. Ambulances, police and firefighters are working at the scene of the crash.

The Guardian has seen an unverified image that appears to show at least one adult severely injured at the scene.

The state broadcaster Suspilne has posted to Telegram to say “Preliminarily, it is known about five injured people, there are also deaths due to the fall of a helicopter in Brovary.”

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine. My name is Helen Sullivan and I’ll be bringing you the latest for the next few hours.

Our top story this morning: the British defence secretary, Ben Wallace, a meeting to mount a final attempt to put pressure on Germany to authorise sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine this week.

Defence sources said a purpose of the meeting on Thursday was “to encourage the Germans” if no decision has been made by Berlin before then, although the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, is due to speak at the Davos summit on Wednesday afternoon.

More on this shortly. In the meantime here are the other key recent developments:

  • A search and rescue operation in the rubble of Saturday’s Russian missile strike on an apartment building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro has been completed, authorities said. The death toll currently stands at 45, including a child, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk region military administration said. At least 19 people are still missing and a further 79 people injured, according to local officials.

  • The Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych has tendered his resignation after a public outcry over comments he made suggesting the Russian missile that struck the building in Dnipro had been shot down by Ukraine. The Ukrainian air force says the apartment complex was hit by a Russian Kh-22 missile, which Kyiv does not have the equipment to shoot down.

  • Russia has announced it will make “major changes” to its armed forces from 2023-26, promising to shake up its military structure after months of setbacks on the battlefield in Ukraine. In addition to administrative changes, the defence ministry said it would strengthen the combat capabilities of its naval, aerospace and strategic missile forces.

  • More than 9,000 civilians, including 453 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion last February according to Ukraine. Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian presidential staff, said at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, “We will not forgive a single [act of] torture or life taken. Each criminal will be held accountable.”.

  • Ukraine’s top general, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, spoke to his US counterpart, General Mark Milley, face to face near the Ukraine-Poland border for the first time. Milley, who is the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met for a couple of hours with Zaluzhnyi at an undisclosed location in south-eastern Poland on Tuesday. The pair have talked frequently over the past year but had never met.

  • Ukraine has urged world leaders to intensify efforts to remove Vladimir Putin’s troops from its soil as its war with Russia dominated the first full day of the gathering of the global elite in Davos.

  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday picked little-known Boris Pistorius to be Germany’s new defence minister, putting him in charge of steering the armed forces through an era of momentous change. The appointment follows the resignation of Christine Lambrecht at a crucial time for the ministry, with Germany under intense pressure to send battle tanks to Ukraine.

  • The Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, has told Joe Biden that the Netherlands will offer Patriot missiles to Ukraine. The Netherlands will join the US and Germany in sending the Patriot missile defence system to Ukraine, Rutte told Biden at the White House. Biden thanked Rutte for being “very very stalwart” on its support for Ukraine.

  • The UK foreign secretary, James Cleverly, has justified the supply of Challenger tanks to Ukraine, saying it was designed to bring the war to a quick conclusion and there was a moral imperative to end the war soon due to the casualties and cost. His remarks seemed designed to encourage the US to step up its own weapons supply.

  • The EU executive has confirmed it is releasing €3bn in emergency aid for Ukraine, the first tranche of an €18bn fund intended to help run essential public services during winter.

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