Ukrainian President’s topmost adviser killed in helicopter crash
Kyiv/Washington: At least 14 passengers including Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Denis Monastyrsky, First Deputy Minister of Interior Yevheniy Yenin, Minister of Interior State Secretary Yuriy Lubkovychis, were killed when the helicopter carrying them crashed near a kindergarten building in Brovary, a foggy residential suburb of Kyiv, around 8.30 am local time today.
The kindergarten building was severely damaged because of the helicopter crash. All 14 dead people were identified, including 1 child and 9 people who were on board. 25 people were injured including 11 children.
Monastyrsky was the longest-serving political adviser of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. The officials were on their way to hot spots in the Kharkiv region. The cause of the helicopter crash is under investigation, Ukraine said.
In Washington, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken said the United States “offers our support and solidarity to Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, which has been a close partner for many years”. A State Department spokesperson said the US had offered its “full support, full assistance to Ukraine in this difficult hour”.
Meanwhile, the US today announced that it would work with Congress to fund an additional $125 million to support Ukraine’s energy and electricity grid against Russia’s continued attacks on utilities and other civilian infrastructure. This funding would come from the recently passed Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2023.
This additional $125 million funding will be used to acquire essential industrial equipment to maintain water supply and heating systems in and around Kyiv. It is on top of already significant funds and other support to Ukraine to maintain its energy and electrical grid in all parts of the country.
Overall, the US has provided about $25 billion in security assistance to Ukraine in less than a year. “The bottom line is we are determined to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to succeed on the battlefield. As we’ve said, the fastest way to bring this war to a just and durable end, to get to diplomacy, to get to a negotiation, is to give Ukraine a strong hand on the battlefield. That’s exactly what we’re doing,” Blinken said.
Earlier today, Ukraine was at the top of the agenda during the talks between Blinken and the visiting foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, James Cleverly. Britain announced that it has decided to accelerate its support, including the supply to Ukraine of main battle tanks, heavy artillery, and other military systems. “We should never lose sight of the fact that the United States of America is the single largest donor of military and economic aid to support Ukraine’s self-defence of any country in the world, and the UK is very proud to be number two in that pecking order,” Cleverly said.
Incidentally, Germany suggested today that it won’t allow tanks to be sent to Ukraine unless the US sends them first to which Blinken said, these were sovereign decisions for each country to make. “I would note that what Germany has done to date has been quite extraordinary, and we’ve just had the recent announcement that they’ll send infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine and a Patriot missile battery,” he said.
– global bihari bureau