Ukraine’s interior minister and a toddler were among at least 14 people killed on Wednesday when a helicopter crashed into and set fire to a nursery in a Kyiv suburb.
Separately, Ukraine said its soldiers again thwarted Russian advances on the frontline city of Bakhmut in the east, hundreds of kilometres (miles) distant, where both sides have suffered severe losses for little gain in trench warfare since November.
Officials in Ukraine say it is too soon to say what caused the helicopter to crash. None of them brought up a Russian attack right away, even though Russia invaded Ukraine in February and has been firing missiles at Ukrainian cities almost every day since October, often far from the front lines.
Dozens of people were hurt, including children, with many suffering burns after the French-made Super Puma helicopter crashed in the fog in Brovary on Kyiv’s eastern suburbs, plunging into the nursery grounds.
Denys Monastyrskyi, the Interior Minister who was on board the chopper, was killed. He was the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to be killed since the war began.
Since regaining considerable ground in the east and south in the second half of 2022, combat lines have stiffened, and Kyiv claims new Western weaponry, particularly heavy battle tanks, are critical for regaining momentum this year.
On Friday, Western allies will meet at a US air base in Germany to give Ukraine more weapons. Germany has veto authority over any decision to send its Leopard tanks, which are used by NATO-allied militaries across Europe and are usually seen as the fittest for Ukraine.
Germany would not let allies transport German-made tanks to Ukraine to aid its defence against Russia, or send its own equipment, the Wall Street Journal said on Wednesday, citing top German officials.