- Ukraine's First Lady appeared in Vogue photos next to the burned out wreckage of the world's largest aircraft.
- The Antonov An-225 Mriya was destroyed when Russian forces captured the Hostomel Airfield near Kyiv in February.
- The Russians managed to hold the airfield for a few weeks before it was retaken by Ukrainian forces.
Ukraine's First Lady, Olena Zelenska, has appeared in a series of photos for Vogue taken by Annie Leibovitz and will be on the cover of Vogue magazine's October 2022 issue. One photo in particular shows her posing beside the burned out wreckage of the world's largest plane, the Antonov An-225 Mriya.
Zelenska, who has, along with her husband Volodymyr Zelenskyy, faced some criticism for the photoshoot, was photographed flanked by armed female Ukrainian soldiers. On Instagram, the magazine's photo caption touted the participation of women in combat on the front lines and the first lady's role in "frontline diplomacy."
The Antonov An-225 cargo plane — also called the Mriya — was famous before it met an ugly end. It set the Guinness world record as the largest aircraft by weight before it was destroyed in Russia's assault on Kyiv. The An-225 was housed at Hostomel airport on the outskirts of Kyiv and was reportedly severely damaged during a fight for control of the airfield.
—Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 27, 2022
Drone footage of the airfield in the aftermath showed the An-225 with a partially collapsed roof and the front section almost entirely destroyed.
Russia managed to hold the airfield — also called Antonov Airport — for a few weeks before it was retaken by Ukrainian forces, which put up such a stiff resistance that Russia was forced to shift focus away from the Ukrainian capital city and onto separatist regions in eastern Ukraine where intense fighting continues.
The Antonov An-225 was completed just before the fall of the Soviet Union and was originally built to carry parts for the Soviet space shuttle. The large cargo plane was used for humanitarian aid across the globe, including after the 2010 Haiti earthquake when it carried 110 tons of relief supplies to Santo Domingo.
"The sadness is so indescribable," pilot Dmytro Antonov told Reuters after the plane's destruction.
After the wreckage of the An-225 was discovered, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense posted a photo of troops posing with it. The post said that Russian invaders may have destroyed Mriya, but the "dream is indestructible."
—Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) April 3, 2022
The Mriya's manufacturer, Ukroboronprom, said the big aircraft was undergoing maintenance as the fighting reached Kyiv and could not fly out as other planes had. The firm told Reuters that it believed Russia should cover the $3 billion cost to rebuild the plane. In June, billionaire businessman Richard Branson visited the airport, where he reportedly discussed his "readiness to help" by both repairing the airfield and by building a new version of the Mriya.