Images show destruction of world’s largest airplane in Ukraine

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Hostomel, Ukraine (CNN) – Its fuselage is a fiery and twisted gaping hole. Its huge wings have fallen to the ground, and one of its engines has been burned and destroyed.

The huge train of tires on which the plane sits is still visible, such as a torn nose cone, proudly with Ukrainian blue and yellow stripes and the “225” of its official designation.

But it is clear that the world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Antonov AN-225, will never fly again.

The full extent of the damage to the “Maria” or “Dream” aircraft in Ukraine, as seen by CNN reporters last week after the withdrawal of Russian troops from Hostommel airfield outside Kiev, was one of the first strategic targets of the invasion. Ukraine.

The jet plane is crumpled and broken under the shattered arch of the aircraft hangar, where it was awaiting maintenance at the time of the attack.

It is surrounded by war damage – the airfield is filled with destroyed Russian hardware, including trucks, tanks, armed personnel carriers and spent ammunition.

The destruction of the AN-225 was a symbolic loss in the early stages of the conflict. The aircraft, originally built to support the Soviet space shuttle program of the 1980s, was a symbol of pride for Ukraine.

He also sent shockwaves into the world of aviation. The aircraft was celebrated as a marvel of modern aerial engineering, where it was a star attraction and regularly attracted crowds at air shows during its daily cargo missions around the world.

Symbolic position

Immediately after reports of his death, Ukrainian authorities pledged to rebuild the plane, saying ર 3 billion would be spent on rebuilding Russia.

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“Russia may have destroyed our ‘Maria’. But they will never be able to destroy our dream of a strong, independent and democratic European state. We will win!” At the time, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Soon after gaining control of the airfield in late February, Russian troops began digging into the hostel. After weeks of intense fighting, satellite images revealed last Thursday that Russian forces had suddenly disappeared.

Earlier satellite images showed that, around military vehicles and artillery positions, the Russians built protective clay burms. Now, only Burmese are left.

Ukrainian forces have since taken control of the facility, claiming it is a significant victory over the Russians. Over the weekend, CNN reporters visited the airfield with the Ukrainian National Police.

It is not clear what caused the crash – whether it was a deliberate act of sabotage or collateral damage from a military strike to gain control of the airfield.

But despite the dilapidated state of the AN-255, with many soldiers taking photographs of the aircraft, the symbolic status of Maria among Ukrainians has not diminished.

CNN’s Barry Neeld and Paul P. Murphy contributed to the story

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