As the fighting in Ukraine continues, the costs in lives and destruction continue to increase.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s official Twitter account shared a sad update on a significant loss.
The Antonov-225 “Mriya,” the largest plane in the world, was destroyed during a Russian attack.
The biggest plane in the world “Mriya” (The Dream) was destroyed by Russian occupants on an airfield near Kyiv. We will rebuild the plane. We will fulfill our dream of a strong, free, and democratic Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/Gy6DN8E1VR
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) February 27, 2022
According to U.S. News and World Report the Mriya — the Ukrainian word for “Dream” — burned during Russian shelling of the Antonov airfield, at the Hostomel airport near Kyiv.
Ukroboronprom, the Ukrainian state arms manufacturer, announced the loss of the plane on its Facebook account. The company estimated it would take $3 billion to restore the aircraft — and left no doubt about whom it expects to make good for the destruction.
“She will surely be reborn. Estimated calculations will cost more than $3 billion and more than 5 years,” the post stated, according to a Facebook translation. “Our task is to make these costs covered by the Russian Federation, which caused deliberate damage to Ukrainian aviation and freight aviation sector.”
(It’s odd a state arms manufacturer would have a Facebook page, but that is the state of the world today.)
The Antonov Company website gave the history and specifications of the giant plane.
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The Mriya was built to transport the Buran shuttle, a spacecraft developed by the Soviet Union. It was expected to serve as a flying launchpad for space vehicles. It made its first flight on Dec. 21, 1988.
Its characteristics were given as about 276 feet long, almost 60 feet high, with a wingspan of just over 290 feet.
It had a cruising speed of just under 500 mph.
For comparison, the C-17 Globemaster III, the workhorse of the United States Air Force, is 174 feet long and 55 feet high with a wingspan of just under 170 feet.
A 2021 YouTube video showed the Mriya doing a full power take-off from Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland.
The destruction of the Mriya was a technological loss and cultural loss, not only for Ukraine, but for the world. The longer the conflict drags on, the greater the devastation will be.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown he’s serious about the stakes. He put his nuclear deterrent forces on alert. Putin warned NATO not only about the escalation of sanctions and other punitive measures, but against even using aggressive language, in the face of actual Russian aggression.
Putin has no respect for the forces aligned against him. With a fundamentally weak Biden administration in the White House, other countries feel emboldened as well. China is taking advantage of the chaos, looking at Taiwan like Russia looked at Ukraine.
Other cultural icons, and many more lives, remain at risk due to the current weakness of the Biden White House.