Ukrainian prosecutors and security service SBU have formally accused ex-Antonov officials of obstructing attempts by the country’s military to defend Gostomel airport.

The airport was “strategically important”, says the security service, and became the target of an assault in the early days of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

This attack on 27 February 2022 resulted in the destruction of the sole heavy Antonov An-225 transport, as well as other aircraft, and temporary seizure of the facility.

Operated by Antonov Airlines, the An-225 (UR-82060) was a six-engined derivative of the An-124.

An-225-c-Larske Creative Commons

Source: Larske/Creative Commons

Only one example of the six-engined An-225 was ever built

SBU says it has completed its investigation into the loss of the aircraft, and claims it has gathered “indisputable evidence” against the former general director and aviation security head.

The suspects, who are in custody, have been charged with obstructing the activities of the Ukrainian armed forces in January-February 2022 by preventing military personnel from entering Gostomel airport and preparing for its defence.

SBU adds that the suspects face up to 15 years’ imprisonment if convicted. It says the investigation has been conducted under guidance of special prosecutors.

Ukraine’s general prosecutor’s office says the suspects “categorically forbade” installation of equipment, fortifications and engineering work for combat.

“This deliberate delay…in allowing the military to enter the airport territory gave the enemy the opportunity to inflict damage on personnel, aircraft, vehicles and airport facilities,” it adds.