A close adviser to the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian military died on Monday after a grenade given to him as a birthday gift exploded.

What exactly happened?

General Valery Zaluzhny’s assistant, Major Hennadiy Chastiakov, was celebrating his 39th birthday on Monday when he was presented with a gift box from a colleague, Colonel Timchenko.

The wooden box contained six grenades and a bottle of “Black Label” whisky.

Chastiakov was later showing his son the gifts he had received when one of the grenades exploded, killing him and seriously injuring his 13-year-old son.

Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said in a statement on Telegram: “At first, the son took the munition in his hands and began to turn the ring.

“Then the serviceman took the grenade away from the child and pulled the ring, causing a tragic explosion.”

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Was it an assassination?

Early reports suggested it was possible but Ukrainian law enforcement sources quickly dismissed the idea and instead described it as a “tragic accident.”

Three witnesses were present when Timchenko handed the gift box to Chastyakov, who said as he did so: “It’s hard to surprise you – that’s why I’m giving you grenades and a bottle of good whiskey.”

A source in the SBU told Kyiv Post: “Obviously, Chastyakov took it as a joke. Because later he took the children from school and began to sort out gifts with them.

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“He thought that in the box were not combat grenades, but glasses of a specific shape.”

The source added that Timchenko kept two of the grenades for himself.

They added: “With a probability of 99.9 percent, this is a tragic case. He was given combat grenades for his birthday, one of which detonated due to careless handling.

“The investigation is ongoing, but at the moment there is no reason to talk about either an attempt or a Russian trail.”

Who was Hennadiy Chastiakov?

Chastiakov has a far lower public profile than his boss, who paid tribute to him in a post on social media on Monday evening.

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“Under tragic circumstances, my assistant and close friend, Major Gennadiy Chastiakov, was killed... on his birthday.”

He said that since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Chastiakov had been “fully devoting his life to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the fight against Russian aggression.”

Chastiakov leaves a wife and four children, Zaluzhny added.

What type of grenade was it?

The DM51 hand grenade is a German hand grenade developed by the Diehl company in the 1970s. It was designed to replace multiple models of fragmentation grenades then in service with the German military with a single type.

It is a two-part grenade. The first part is an inner slim-cased explosive charge which has a threaded base with the fuse, safety ring and fly off activation lever at the top. This can be used as a stand-alone offensive grenade relying on concussive blast from its 60 gram Nitropenta (PETN) explosive charge to disable the target.

The second part is a plastic fragmenting case in which there is a matrix containing 6500 2mm steel balls giving the grenade a total weight of 430 grams. When this outer sleeve is fitted over the inner case the grenade has a lethal blast and fragmentation range of 10 meters. It is called “defensive” because the user needs to be protected from the grenade’s effects.

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The DM51 operates like any other conventional hand grenade. The user first pulls out the safety ring and then throws the grenade. On release the fly-off the arming handle is dropped and the grenade then lands to detonate. When fitted with the fragmentating sleeve, the grenade is given a well-ribbed surface for improved grip and handling. Left off, the base grenade features a smooth body finish.

The DM51 is currently in widespread use within the German military and it has been reported that Germany provided Ukraine with around 100,000 of the grenades.

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