Copy of 2022-04-03T143715Z_111943294_RC2KFT9D7597_RTRMADP_3_UKRAINE-CRISIS-HOSTOMEL-1649001922998
An Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane, the world's biggest aircraft, destroyed by Russian troops. Image Credit: REUTERS

Kyiv: Among the rubble of the Russian assault on Kyiv are the remains of the massive Antonov AN-225 airplane - also called Mriya, or “dream” in Ukrainian - which had set a Guinness world record for being the largest aircraft by weight.

Ukrainian troops toured the plane’s charred remains Saturday at Hostomel airport on the outskirts of Kyiv - and positioned themselves at the airport’s entrance in a sign that they were in control, the Associated Press reported.

Kyiv’s forces have re-captured territory near the capital as Russian troops pull out of the area as part of an apparent shift in strategy to focus on the country’s south and east.

Mriya, weighing some 705 tons with a wingspan of 290 feet, was reportedly destroyed as Russian forces fought to seize the airport in late February.

The Russian military held this area for weeks until Ukrainian forces claimed it back.

Other planes left the airport when the war began. But the Mriya had been at the airport undergoing maintenance and could not fly out, according to Ukroboronpromm, the Ukrainian company overseeing it. The firm estimated it would take five years and 3 billion dollars to rebuild it - a cost it said Russia should bear.

The Antonov AN-225 was finished shortly before the former Soviet Union’s collapse and was said to be the world’s biggest. The cargo plane was originally built to transport a Soviet space shuttle. In 2009, it was recognised by Guinness World Records for airlifting the heaviest item of any plane: a power plant generator weighing 170,187kg.