Ukrainian interior minister’s death leaves many questions unanswered

Lucas Leiroz, researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

On January 18, a helicopter carrying senior Ukrainian officials crashed on the suburbs of Kiev, killing 14 people, including interior minister Denys Monastyrsky and his first deputy Yevgeny Enin. There are different narrations of what happened. At first, media said that the incident occurred due to a malfunction in the helicopter’s engine, but there are a number of contradictions between the versions, with people believing that it was a planned sabotage.

The helicopter crashed at 8:20 am on January 18, in Brovary, a city of the Kiev oblast. The site was in foggy conditions according to local informants, but so far there is no data to prove that the weather could really disturb the flight. The fall took place near a kindergarten, which led the tragedy to reach even greater proportions, as dozens of children were affected – three of them dying. As many people, including several children, remain hospitalized, it is possible that the number of deaths will increase in the coming days.

The helicopter was a French Airbus H225 (also known as Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma) and belonged to the Ukrainian emergency service since 2018. The reasons for its collapse are still being investigated. The most commented hypothesis is that there has been a technical malfunction, although all possibilities are considered – including sabotage. A report from the local Ukrainian media states that it was already known that this helicopter model had many technical difficulties:

“The helicopter that crashed today in Brovary was from a batch of helicopters purchased from France in 2018. The EC225 (or H225) model, the fall of which the authorities confirmed today, had a number of technical problems. At that time, Airbus Helicopters had several lawsuits over ‘inherent’ malfunction”.

Indeed, one question remains: if it was already known that there were technical problems with the equipment, why did the Ukrainian authorities continue to use it to attend important officers?

This is why many unofficial narratives about the possibility of deliberate assassination have emerged on the internet. The Ukrainian government admits the possibility, claiming to be investigating a hypothesis of sabotage against the Minister, but obviously it does so based on the idea that there would be an intention on the part of the Russian forces to kill him – which is doubtful, considering the low military relevance of such an act.

However, an even more curious fact is that several residents of Brovary commented that they saw a missile in the air hitting the airbus. The rumors have been reported by independent channels on social media, mainly through on the ground journalists who are investigating the case unofficially. The news raises a series of other possibilities.

It is important to remember that the Ukrainian air defense system has made serious mistakes recently, destroying civilian areas and killing innocent people due to the inaccuracy of its attacks. There are many factors that help to understand this process. First, since the beginning of the conflict, Kiev has shown that it does not have a military doctrine concerned with civilians, so there does not seem to be any special care on the part of artillery operators to avoid non-military casualties.

Second, there is the technical issue. Currently, due to significant losses on the battlefield, Kiev is recruiting personnel without military qualifications, incompetent to operate the war equipment that is being used in the conflict. The case becomes even more serious considering that the neo-Nazi regime is receiving NATO’s weapons with which its soldiers are even less familiar, increasing the possibility of errors.

It is important to remember that Monastyrsky was the second major official that the Zelensky government lost in less than twenty-four hours. Earlier, top adviser Alexey Arestovich had resigned precisely for accidentally revealing mistakes made by the Ukrainian artillery.

The fact is that if a projectile did hit the Ukrainian helicopter, it is much more likely that it came from Kiev’s own artillery – accidentally or intentionally – than from Russian artillery, which was not shelling the place at the time. Furthermore, the mere point that Kiev was allowing a top official to fly over a country at war using an unsafe airbus already shows that either the government simply did not care about his safety.

It is important to mention that Monastyrsky, as Interior Minister, was the head of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi militias, as since 2014 the ultranationalist gangs have been incorporated into the Kiev’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. So, he certainly had sensitive information about how the neo-Nazi regime manages its security forces.

In July, Kiev bombed a Russian prison in Olenivka where Azov’s militants were placed after their surrender in Azovstal. On that occasion, 50 neo-Nazi soldiers died in what was probably an attempt by Kiev to avoid confessions that could threaten the confidentiality of some data. Ukraine obviously tries to hide information about the practices of its neo-Nazi troops, such as war crimes, training camps for children, arms trafficking, terrorism, among others. In this sense, considering that Monastyrsky had much more concrete information about these same crimes, it is possible that there was an intention to eliminate him, in case Zelensky was really promoting a purge.

So far, the data are uncertain, and many questions remain unanswered. But the evidence seems to point to yet another criminal incident.

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