Valery Zaluzhny, the commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, lost a close aide when a grenade he received as a birthday present exploded.
When the device burst, Maj Hennadiy Chastyakov, 39, was returning home with gifts from his coworkers and was opening them with his son.
Maj. Chastyakov perished, and his 13-year-old son suffered life-threatening injuries.
Ihor Klymenko, the interior minister, stated that the kid had begun to rotate the grenade’s ring.
“Then, the serviceman took the grenade from the child and pulled the ring, causing a tragic explosion.”
The minister urged the public to wait for the results of an official investigation, describing the blast as a “tragic accident”. According to the police, “careless handling of ammunition” was the cause of the explosion that occurred in the family apartment at Chaiky, on the western suburbs of Kiev.
However, it was soon discovered that the apartment possessed five more grenades. Mr. Klymenko stated that an army comrade had given them to him as a present.
During a search of the colleague—who was identified as an army colonel—two other grenades of a similar kind were discovered.
Additional explosives and gift bags were visible on the apartment floor in photos taken at the scene. It seems that Maj Chastyakov had taken the grenades home in a bag along with a bottle of alcohol.
According to a source who spoke to Ukrainska Pravda, the explosion occurred when the recipient opened a present bag containing glasses shaped like grenades that contained the bottle. Additionally, according to some stories, his colleague gave him the bottle with the words, “It’s hard to surprise you: That’s why I’m giving you combat grenades and a bottle of good whisky.”
Gen. Zaluzhny described Maj. Chastyakov as a “reliable shoulder” since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022 and spoke of the terrible suffering and significant loss to both the Ukrainian military and to him personally.
His passing is the most recent blow to the Ukrainian military, following the deaths of 19 troops in a Russian attack during an awards ceremony near the front lines in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia due to a missile strike. Widespread criticism was leveled at the ceremony for being held in a hazardous location.
Maj Chastyakov’s death, according to pro-presidential MP Maryana Bezulha, was the result of carelessness: “I would never have thought Hennadiy would die as a result of carelessness on his own birthday.” Grenades are distributed; they are not gifts.”
However, some Ukrainian observers have questioned the official explanation of the explosion, speculating that it could have been an attack on Gen Zaluzhny himself because they believe he may have attended his aide’s birthday celebration.
The commander in chief provided a direct appraisal of the state of affairs facing Russia’s invading soldiers on the front lines of Ukraine last week.
“Just like in World War One, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate,” he stated to the Economist. “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.”
President Volodymr Zelensky and the Kremlin disputed that the fighting had come to a standstill. “People are exhausted today, everyone is tired, and perspectives vary. That’s evident, but there’s not a deadlock,” Mr. Zelensky stated over the weekend.
He urged Ukrainians to “pull ourselves together, avoid unwinding and splitting up into disputes or other priorities” in his weekly speech on Monday night.
He further said that, given the state of war and martial law in Ukraine, “now is not the right time” for the spring presidential elections. In 2019, he was elected.