The world’s largest cargo plane has been destroyed by Russian troops at an airport near Kyiv, it’s been reported.
The Antonov AN-225, which has appeared at air shows in the UK, was reported to have been hit at Hostomel Airport around 20 miles from the Ukrainian capital three days ago, however at the time the reports were unconfirmed.
But on Sunday (February 27) Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that the aircraft – called Mriya, or ‘dream’ – had been destroyed.
Mr Kuleba tweeted at 2.50pm UK time: “This was the world’s largest aircraft, AN-225 ‘Mriya’ (‘Dream’ in Ukrainian).
“Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’. But they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We shall prevail!”
A statement by Ukroboronprom, Antonov’s parent organisation, appeared to confirm the plane had been destroyed and that they would plan to rebuild it at Russia’s expense, adding: “Russia has targeted the Dream as a symbol of the capabilities of Ukrainian aviation.
“An-225 ‘Dream’ – an aviation giant, which holds records for the transportation of maximum commercial cargo and the longest and heaviest in the history of aviation monoloading, lifting capacity. Unfortunately, these options are lost today.
“But they will definitely be restored. The occupiers destroyed the plane, but they will not be able to destroy our common dream. She will definitely be reborn. It is estimated that it will take more than $3 billion and more than five years.
“Our task is to ensure that these costs are covered by the Russian Federation, which has caused intentional damage to Ukrainian aviation and the air cargo sector.”
However, the Antonov Company itself took to Twitter to say: “Update on the information of #AN225 “Mriya” aircraft: Currently, until the AN-225 has been inspected by experts, we cannot report on the technical condition of the aircraft.
Only one of the AN-224 planes was built after being designed by the Antonov Design Bureau in the Ukrainian SSR within the Soviet Union during the 1980s.