A helicopter crash Wednesday outside of the Ukrainian capital killed at least 18 people, including Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and several senior ministry officials.
Ihor Klymenko, chief of Ukraine’s National Police, also said two children were among the dead from the crash that happened in Brovary, a suburb east of Kyiv.
Officials said the emergency services helicopter crashed near a kindergarten.
It was not immediately clear what caused the helicopter to go down.
European Council President Charles Michel expressed condolences to the Ukrainian people, calling Monastyrsky “a great friend of the EU.”
“We join Ukraine in grief following the tragic helicopter accident in Brovary,” Michel tweeted.
The United States and other Ukrainian allies are providing Ukraine with more advanced weaponry and training on those systems, and more aid is likely to be announced Friday as they convene the latest meeting of the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will lead the talks, which will be attended by dozens of defense ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
On Thursday, Austin stops in Berlin to meet with incoming German defense minister Boris Pistorius as Germany considers approving its Leopard 2 battle tanks for Ukrainian forces.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he discussed defense cooperation with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier ahead of the Ramstein meeting. Zelenskyy did not mention the German tanks in his nightly address Tuesday.
Zelenskyy also thanked the Netherlands for what he said would be the addition of another Patriot missile battery for Ukraine’s air defenses.
“So, there are now three guaranteed batteries. But this is only the beginning. We are working on new solutions to strengthen our air defense,” Zelenskyy said.
Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a visit to the White House on Tuesday that his country has the intention to join what the United States is doing with Germany “on the Patriot project.”
Germany and the United States each pledged to send a Patriot battery to Ukraine, and the U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday it had begun training Ukrainian troops to operate the advanced system.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters the training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma “will last for several months and train upwards of 90 to 100 Ukrainians.”
Also Tuesday, U.S. Army General Mark Milley and his Ukrainian counterpart General Valerii Zaluzhnyi met at a military base in southeastern Poland for their first face-to-face talks.
Army Colonel Dave Butler, a spokesman for Milley, told two reporters traveling with Milley that he and the Ukrainian military leader felt it was important to meet in person.
“These guys have been talking on a very regular basis for about a year now, and they’ve gotten to know each other,” Butler said. “They’ve talked in detail about the defense that Ukraine is trying to do against Russia’s aggression. And it’s important — when you have two military professionals looking each other in the eye and talking about very, very important topics, there’s a difference.”
Butler said the meeting would allow Milley to relay Zaluzhnyi’s concerns and information to the other military leaders during a NATO chiefs’ meeting later this week.
In addition, Milley also will be able to describe the new training of Ukrainian forces that the United States has started at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, Butler said.
Milley saw arms instruction for 600 Ukrainian troops during a nearly two-hour visit there on Monday, which the U.S. hopes will better prepare Ukrainian troops to launch an offensive or counter any surge in Russian attacks.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.