By means of a helicopter action with commandos, Russia is seeking to take control of the Ukrainian base where the Antonov An-124 strategic transport aircraft on which France was counting to move Barkhane from Mali are based.
Getting hold of the Antonov An-124
Russia attacked this morning in the Gostomel region with a large-scale helicopter operation using commandos. This is the area where the Antonov An-124s operated by the West, and in particular France, for strategic transport operations (including sometimes satellites sent to French Guiana) are based, close to Kiev. Other aircraft of the same type are operated by... the Russian army. At this stage, there is total confusion in Ukraine, especially in this area near the border. Ukraine was historically a key republic in Russian aircraft construction, and this is still the case without membership of the Russian federation.
Important aircraft for France
France was counting on Antonov An-124s to move Barkhane from Mali and then from the Sahel. An An-124 can lift between 100 and 150 tonnes (or four to six manoeuvring helicopters) depending on the altitude and temperature of the terrain. France has been operating them since 1994 and Rwanda. They have been used in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and the Sahel. This takeover of the An-124s reveals, if proof were needed, that Russia has clearly planned the invasion of Ukraine and is targeting resources that it will be able to use for its own benefit.