The ‘biggest’ plane in the world – ‘a symbol of hope in the darkest hours of Covid’ – was destroyed by Russia amid the assault, Ukraine said on Sunday as it highlights puts up a strong defense – his country has been under attack for five days after Moscow launched a “full-scale invasion”. The plane was called “Mriya”, which means “(a) dream” in Ukrainian. “A symbol of hope in the darkest hours of COVID, Mriya (Dream), the world’s largest aircraft, carried large quantities of life-saving vaccines and PPE around the world. It is now destroyed by invaders Russians in its war against Ukraine and the wider world (sic),” the Foreign Ministry tweeted.
“Russia may have destroyed our ‘Mriya’. But it can never destroy our dream of a strong, free and democratic European state. We will win! (sic),” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter. The plane was destroyed outside Kiev.
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It was 84 meters long (276 ft) and could carry up to 250 tonnes (551,000 pounds) of cargo at speeds of up to 850 kilometers per hour (528 mph). The cargo plane was operated by the Ukrainian company Antonov Airlines.
Ukraine announced that it would rebuild the aircraft.
“In 2020, the world’s largest transport aircraft, the AN-225 Mriya, started carrying out humanitarian flights and delivering medical supplies to fight coronavirus in the #EU. Then #Ukraine started defended Europe against the pandemic. Today Russian troops destroyed the world legend of aviation,” read a tweet from the Ukrainian parliament.
It would cost more than 3 billion dollars (2.7 billion euros) and more than five years to restore “Mriya”. The country hopes to claim damages from the Russian military. “Our mission is to ensure that these expenses are covered by Russia, which deliberately inflicted damage on Ukrainian aviation,” state arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom told AFP.
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Originally built as part of the Soviet aircraft program, the An-225 made its first flight 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 kilometers from Kiev.
Ukraine is in the midst of the worst crisis in decades after Russia waged a full-scale war. The Russian military said it was trying to seize strategic infrastructure, but schools and residential neighborhoods were hit. Within four days of the constant offensive, Russian troops are currently encircling the capital Kiev, however, Ukrainian forces are fighting a fierce battle.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said 352 Ukrainian civilians had been killed in the Russian invasion, including 14 children. It says a further 1,684 people, including 116 children, were injured.
(With contributions from AFP)