The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) reported that it’s collected “indisputable evidence” that high-level officials at Antonov State Enterprise took actions that let Mriya – what had been not only the largest airplane in Ukraine but also the largest in the world – be destroyed by the Russians in the early days of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Dmytro Antonov, Mriya's commander, told Kyiv Post that Mriya could have been saved, but management “apparently really wanted to help those who wanted to take Kyiv in three days.”

According to the SBU, Antonov State Enterprise’s general director Serhiy Bychkov and Oleksandr Netiosov, the head of the aviation security unit, blocked Ukraine’s National Guard from entering and defending the Hostomel Airport (also called “Antonov Airport”) at the onset of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

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“The criminal actions of the perpetrators led to the temporary seizure of a strategically important airfield during the battles for Kyiv and the destruction of the AN-225 Mriya aircraft,” the SBU wrote in a Telegram post.

The SBU finished its pre-trial investigation and sent an indictment to court.

According to the Mriya’s commander, before Russia’s full-scale invasion, Mriya and the entire fleet could have been flown to a backup airfield in Leipzig, Germany.

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“This did not happen. This was the decision of our management,” Antonov said.

He said that just hours before the start of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, the Mriya’s crew were ready to fly from Hostomel to Germany, but never got the order to takeoff.

“Now I realize it would have even been possible to transfer Mriya to Boryspil (another Kyiv airport), not even to Lviv, Germany, or Poland,” he said.

Antonov said that video footage taken from a drone on the day of its destruction shows Mriya was destroyed.

“An ammunition package was stacked near the Mriya and this ammunition was detonated. And as a result of this explosion, the plane was destroyed,” Antonov said.

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Meanwhile, the former Antonov State Enterprise employees are now in custody and facing up to 15 years in prison.

“The occupiers destroyed the airplane, but they won’t be able to destroy our common dream. Mriya will definitely be reborn. The restoration is estimated to take over $3 billion and over five years. Our task is to ensure that these costs are covered by the Russian Federation, which has caused intentional damage to Ukraine’s aviation and the air cargo sector,” Ukrainian defense contractor UkrbOboronProm stated.

PHOTO: Indian Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and airport personnel stand near the world's largest aircraft, the Antonov AN-225 Mriya, at Rajiv Gandhi International airport in Hyderabad on May 13, 2016. The six-engined Mriya aircraft, which means 'dream' in Ukranian, is the longest and heaviest airplane ever built and is en route to Australia from EuropeNOAH SEELAM / AFP

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The one-of-a-kind Mriya was built during the Soviet Union, making its maiden flight on Dec. 21, 1988. The Mriya held several records including heaviest aircraft ever built and largest wingspan of any working aircraft. Typically, it was used to carry very large things including diesel locomotives, wind turbines, and spacecraft.

In April 2022, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mriya delivered 103 tons of medical supplies from China, to help Ukraine fight the virus.

Along with being beloved by air enthusiasts, the Mriya, whose name means “dream” or “inspiration” was a proud icon of Ukraine.

The defendants are charged under Part 2 of Article 27, Part 2 of Article 114-1 of the Criminal Code (obstruction of the lawful activities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations).

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