Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) has leveled allegations against a high-ranking Russian military officer, accusing him of issuing orders to destroy the An-225 aircraft, commonly called Mriya.
On May 19, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) made a statement via its Telegram channel, presenting evidence implicating Lieutenant General Anatoly Kontsevoi, the deputy commander of the Russian Federation’s Airborne Forces.
According to the SBU, it was under Kontsevoi’s orders that the Russian forces temporarily took control of the Hostomel airport as part of a large-scale invasion.
If Lieutenant General Anatoly Kontsevoi is apprehended and found guilty, he could potentially face a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
The Mriya, renowned as the largest cargo plane globally, was created as a crucial component of the Soviet space program.
СБУ повідомила про підозру російському генералу, який віддав наказ знищити «Мрію»
— СБ України (@ServiceSsu) May 19, 2023
Its primary purpose was to facilitate the transportation of the space shuttle Buran and sizable rocket elements. In 1988, Mriya embarked on its maiden flight, marking a significant milestone in aviation history.
However, the illustrious legacy of the An-225 Mriya came to a sad conclusion when the Russian forces launched an assault on Hostomel Airport.
When the Russian invasion commenced on February 24, 2022, the An-225 Mriya aircraft was stationed at Hostomel Airport, which serves as the headquarters of Antonov Company.
Situated near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, the airport became a target of attack on the first day of the invasion. Russian paratroopers were reportedly deployed to the location to establish a strategic foothold for further troop deployments.
According to the SBU, Lieutenant General Anatoly Kontsevoi employed specialized units from airborne troops and army aviation to forcefully storm into Hostomel Airport.
However, the Ukrainian forces successfully repelled the Russian attack on Hostomel Airport.
In a recent interview, Ukrainian Major General Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR), said Hostomel’s victory was essential to Ukraine’s existence.
Despite the Ukrainian forces’ efforts, the victory in the battle for Hostomel Airport came too late to save Mriya. The SBU confirmed that the Russian invaders successfully destroyed the iconic aircraft during the intense fighting.
Charges Leveled By Ukraine Against Russian General
The SBU has determined that the Russian general is a crucial member of the highest military command in the Russian Federation. They have alleged that he directly participated in planning, preparing, and executing armed aggression against Ukraine.
Additionally, since 2019, Kontsevoi has reportedly organized training for paratroopers in Russia and Belarus to target and capture strategic locations within Ukraine.
Based on the evidence gathered, the SBU has notified Kontsevoi of the suspicion against him under two articles of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, specifically related to encroachment on Ukraine’s territorial integrity and the planning and execution of an aggressive war.
SBU made no explicit mention of how it would detain a Russian general. In March, the SBU took into custody Serhiy Bychkov, the former CEO of Antonov, on allegations of making decisions that enabled Russian forces to destroy the An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest aircraft, during the initial phase of Ukraine’s full-scale invasion.
Bychkov is reportedly accused of preventing the Ukrainian military from constructing defensive structures at Hostomel airport by restricting access to the facility’s territory for the National Guard.
Meanwhile, efforts have been made in the past year to secure funds to construct a new Mriya aircraft. In May 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his aspirations to develop a new Mriya during an online meeting with Ukrainian students.
According to the Interfax Ukraine news agency, Zelensky required $800 million for the project. He also mentioned reaching out to the President of Turkey with a proposal to construct the second Mriya, but the necessary funding could not be obtained.
In November 2022, Antonov Company, the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer, officially announced that the design process to finalize the construction of the second An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in the world, was already underway.
As The EurAsian Times reported, the iconic Mriya has experienced a digital rebirth as a $20 downloadable content (DLC) for Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. In collaboration with Microsoft and iniBuilds, Antonov played a significant role in reviving the legendary aircraft within the simulator.
Dmitry Antonov, a pilot with 30 years of experience flying the An-225, appeared during a Microsoft livestream to announce the addition of the plane to the simulator’s aircraft library.
The sales of the Antonov An-225 DLC will contribute to a Ukrainian project aimed at rebuilding the An-225 that was destroyed.
The future of the new aircraft remains uncertain due to various factors, notably the substantial cost associated with its development. Given these considerations, it is challenging to determine the likelihood of the new aircraft coming to fruition anytime soon.