Antonov's leadership sabotaged defense of Hostomel airport, report says

11 April, 01:28 AM
An-225 Mriya after Russia's strike on the airfield in Gostomel, Kyiv region, April 3, 22 (Photo:REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

An-225 Mriya after Russia's strike on the airfield in Gostomel, Kyiv region, April 3, 22 (Photo:REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

In the run-up to the Russian invasion, the management of state-owned aerospace enterprise Antonov didn’t allow the National Guard to enter and fortify Hostomel airport, where Antonov’s An-225 aircraft was stationed, Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported on April 10. 

UP’s sources in Ukraine’s SBU security service said that in January 2022, the National Guard of Ukraine tried to negotiate with the administration of the airfield, but Antonov’s leadership didn’t allow them to enter the premises without documents that would indicate the number of personnel, units, weapons, and deployment plans for air defense systems.

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The documents were handed over to Antonov on Feb. 3, but for a month “the leadership didn’t give permission for various reasons,” and the National Guard was able to get to the airfield only a day before the invasion, which clearly didn’t give enough time to establish adequate defenses. As a result, advancing Russian were able to seize the strategically important airfield and nearby settlements, and destroy An-225 Mriya.

On April 5, former general director of the Antonov state-owned enterprise, Serhiy Bychkov, was charged with criminal negligence. According to the SBU, the An-225 Mriya transport aircraft was supposed to be transported to Leipzig, Germany, but Bychkov hesitated with giving corresponding orders, which led to An-225’s ultimate destruction.

In early March, Bychkov, his deputy, and the head of Antonov’s security were charged with obstructing the lawful activities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations in protecting and defending the airport. Bychkov and the security chief were taken into custode, while the former deputy director was declared a wanted man. All of them face up to 15 years in prison.

An-225 Mriya was the world’s largest and most powerful transport aircraft, built by the Kyiv-based Antonov Design Bureau. The one-of-a-kind aircraft was destroyed by Russian forces on Feb. 27, 2022, during the battle for Hostomel.

Antonov has since announced plans to build another An-225, but the timeframe and funding mechanisms for the project remain unclear.

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