The world’s largest plane – the Ukrainian Antonov-225 cargo plane – was destroyed by Russian strikes outside Kiev on the fourth day of the invasion of Moscow, the Ukrainian public group Ukroboronprom announced on Sunday.
“Russian invaders destroyed the flagship of the Ukrainian air force, the AN-225” at Antonov airport in Gostomel near Kiev, the group said in a statement.
The aircraft was unique in the world, 84 meters long, it could transport up to 250 tons of cargo at a speed of up to 850 km/h.
He had been named “Mriya”, which means “dream” in Ukrainian.
“It was the biggest aircraft in the world, the AN-225 ‘Mriya’,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Sunday.
Russia may have destroyed our “Mriya”. But they can never destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We will win!” he added.
Gostomel airport has seen violent clashes since the start of the Russian invasion, launched Thursday by President Vladimir Putin.
The Russian military said it was trying to seize strategic infrastructure.
Arms maker Ukroboronprom estimated that restoring the “Mriya” would cost more than $3 billion (2.7 billion euros) and could take more than five years.
“Our mission is to ensure that these expenses are covered by Russia, which deliberately inflicted damage on Ukrainian aviation,” the group said.
Originally built as part of the Soviet aircraft program, the An-225 first flew in 1988.
After years without flying after the fall of the Soviet Union, the only existing example made a test flight in 2001 in Gostomel, about 20 km from Kiev.
It was operated by Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines for cargo flights and was in high demand at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.