Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends sombre ceremony in Kyiv to honour those killed in helicopter crash

ITV News' Chloe Keedy has the latest developments on the war in Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held an emotional meeting on Saturday with the families of those who died in a helicopter crash earlier this week. Mr Zelenskyy spoke with family members of seven of those killed in Wednesday’s crash in the Brovary area of Kyiv, Ukraine's capital city.

The helicopter carrying Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi and other senior officials hit a kindergarten building in the residential suburb, killing him and about a dozen other people, including a child.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena paid their respects. Credit: AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Mr Monastyrskyi, who oversaw the country’s police and emergency services, was the most senior official killed since Russia invaded Ukraine last February.

His death, along with the rest of his ministry’s leadership and the entire helicopter crew, was the second major calamity in four days for Ukraine, after a Russian missile struck an apartment building in the south-eastern city of Dnipro, killing dozens of civilians.

At the sombre service in Kyiv, Mr Zelenskyy and his wife laid flowers on each of the seven coffins draped in the blue and yellow flags of his country.

The Ukrainian leader then spoke briefly with the families, as a small orchestra played.

Ukrainian soldiers attend the sombre ceremony in the Ukrainian capital. Credit: AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

The cause of the crash isn’t known, but Mr Zelenskyy has said that it happened because the country is at war. That view was repeated by Ruslan Stefanchuk, chairman of Ukraine’s parliament, speaking after the service.

“All this would not have happened if not for this terrible and undeclared war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine,” Mr Stefanchuk said.

“Therefore, we must remember this and not forget these people. Because for Ukraine and Ukrainians, every lost life is a great tragedy.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine is “in a state of deadlock,” with Ukrainian forces likely achieving small gains in the northeast, near the town of Kreminna, according to the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD).

In its regular intelligence update, the MoD said that Russian forces “have likely been reconstituting” in the eastern town of Soledar after taking it earlier in the week.

“There is a realistic possibility of local Russian advances” around Bakhmut, an eastern city whose capture would give the Kremlin a long-awaited victory after months of battlefield setbacks, the MoD added.

The update comes as senior US officials have reportedly advised Ukraine to hold off on launching a major offensive against Russian soldiers until the latest supply of American weaponry is ready and training has been given.

When asked if he supports Poland's aim to send German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, US President Joe Biden said: "Ukraine is going to get all the help they need."

The president's comments were made in the context of an ongoing dispute over sending the tanks from Western allies to help Ukraine.

On Friday, more than 50 defence leaders meeting in Germany failed to hammer out an agreement on the tanks - stalled by Berlin’s apparent hesitation.

Other key developments in the war in Ukraine:

Fierce battles for Bakhmut have been raging and three civilians were killed by Russian shelling in that area of the eastern Donetsk region, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office reported on Saturday morning. In total, five civilians were killed and 13 injured by Russian shelling over the past 24 hours in Ukraine’s east and south, where active fighting is ongoing, Kyrylo Tymoshenko said in a Telegram post. Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in Bakhmut and other parts of the country’s embattled east overnight, the military said in a Facebook update on Saturday morning. A 60-year-old woman died after Russian shells hit her home in the northeastern Kharkiv region, local Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said in a Telegram update. He added that four other people were injured in the province. One woman was also killed in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where Russian forces launched more than 160 shelling attacks overnight, Governor Oleksandr Starukh reported in a Telegram post.

He said that 21 cities and towns were targeted, and two other civilians sustained injuries.

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