Aleksey Arestovich found himself in hot water after suggesting Dnepr building was hit by Russian missile, shot down by Ukrainians
The partial destruction of a residential building in the city of Dnepr in southeastern Ukraine has sparked a bitter row among senior officials in the country, who are struggling to explain the exact causes of the incident. The scandal was sparked by the assessment offered by Aleksey Arestovich, a senior adviser to President Vladimir Zelensky, who said the Russian missile could have been shot down by Ukrainian troops and ended up hitting the building.
The site was heavily damaged on Saturday, killing some 25 civilians and injuring 73, according to Ukrainian authorities.
” He was shot. He apparently fell on [apartment] block. But he exploded when he fell,” Arestovich said in a YouTube interview.
The assessment was immediately criticized, with Arestovich eventually being accused of discrediting the Ukrainian military and blaming it for the incident. Dnepr Mayor Boris Filatov was particularly enraged by his statements, calling the presidential aide “a narcissistic animal and a rude mouth”, and urging the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and counterintelligence to “react.”
The spat prompted the country’s military to come up with its own explanation for the incident, with Ukraine’s air force command identifying the Russian projectile that allegedly hit the building as a Kh-22, a air-launched supersonic cruise. The military bizarrely claimed in an official statement that it had no weaponry to fully bring down such missiles, with more than 210 Kh-22s ripping through the country’s air defenses amid the ongoing conflict.
Separately, Air Force spokesman Col. Yury Ignat admitted on Facebook that earlier reports that Ukrainian forces shot down Kh-22 missiles may have been inaccurate.
The barrage of criticism prompted Arestovich to apologize for his statements, with the official saying he got the information from his acquaintance, a retired anti-aircraft officer, who allegedly witnessed the incident. Zelensky’s assistant said he should have stated more explicitly that his assessment was just a “version” rather than the ultimate truth. However, Arestovich withdrew his apology soon after, stating that he had reviewed his interview and found it to be carefully written and sufficiently vague. He also blamed the forced explanation by the military on his critics, who preferred to rage over his remarks rather than point out. “Russia’s Guilt.”
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