A tearful Volodymyr Zelenskiy attended a memorial service on Saturday for seven senior Interior Ministry officials killed in a helicopter crash this week.
Former Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, his deputy and five other senior officials were killed when their French-made Super Puma helicopter crashed into a nursery on the eastern outskirts of Kyiv in fog on Wednesday.
Seven other people were also killed, including a child. Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.
The helicopter crashed days after at least 45 people were killed in a Russian missile attack that partially leveled a building in the southeastern city of Dnipro.
On the battlefield, Ukrainian forces repel a relentless Russian assault in the east, where Moscow has spent huge resources on incremental advances 11 months after its full-scale invasion.
“Indescribable sadness covers the soul,” the Ukrainian president wrote in a Telegram post on Saturday. “Ukraine is losing its best sons and daughters every day.”
Zelenskiy and his wife, Olena Zelenska, paid their respects to relatives of the victims inside the Ukrainian House cultural center in central Kyiv. A crowd of mourners snaked outside towards Independence Square.
The country’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, described Monastyrskyi’s death as a huge loss.
“If it hadn’t been for Monastyrskyi, everything could have been completely different,” he told Ukrainian media, referring to the resistance Ukraine has mounted since Moscow launched its invasion on 24 April. February of last year.
“He is a true hero of this country.”
Monastyrskyi had flown to a location near the front line, a police spokesman said Thursday.