Ukraine suffered a body blow this week when a civilian helicopter on its way to the front line near Bakhmut crashed in the outskirts of Kyiv, apparently killing all nine on board and others on the ground. Amongst the dead were Ukranian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, his deputy, and several colleagues. Others were killed on the ground, including children from a nearby kindergarten.
The exact circumstances of the crash will be revealed in the fullness of time when expert investigators have sifted the evidence, but there seem to be three possibilities; first, mechanical failure. There are eyewitnesss reports that the helicopter was on fire and circling prior to it coming down. This would seem to me that likeliest explanation.
Others have suggested pilot or crew error, exacerbated by the foggy weather at the time and the need to fly at low level on account of the wartime threat. This too is possible, though less likely. Professional pilots are trained to fly by their instruments in low visibility. The third suggestion is that it was shot down by the Russians. Whilst this is technically possible it would seem to be the least likely explanation.
But there’s no doubt it has been a blow for the Ukrainian government. We can ask whether it was wise to have both the Minister and his deputy in the same aircraft in wartime and maybe procedures will be changed in the aftermath, but that’s for another time.
Accidents and tragedy go hand in glove with armed conflict. It may be that the war was not directly the cause of the crash, but as President Zelensky put it, it clearly happened “because” of the war.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford is a Defence Analyst and a former Army officer, author & broadcaster – sign up to his podcast at defencereview.uk
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