Ukraine’s air defenses shot down six of the most advanced conventional weapons in Russia’s arsenal, hypersonic Kinzhal missiles, during a barrage of missiles and drones targeting Kiev, the capital, on Tuesday, according to Ukrainian and US officials.
The Russian Defense Ministry said at least one Kinzhal had hit a US-made Patriot system, the most advanced US ground-based air defense system, that Washington had supplied to Ukraine following its urgent requests to help defend against an attack by Russian missiles and drones. to attack.
A statement from the Ukrainian Air Force did not specify whether the Patriot system was indeed involved in shooting down Russian missiles in one of the largest airstrikes by Moscow since early March. But two US officials confirmed that a Patriot was damaged, not destroyed, in Tuesday night’s attack, an estimate initially reported by DailyExpertNews. And one of the Americans confirmed that Ukraine had shot down six Kinzhal missiles.
After an evaluation of the damage to the Patriot to determine if parts of the system needed to be replaced or repaired, the initial conclusion was that the airfield-based system was still operational against all threats, including hypersonic rockets. — the US officials said.
“At 3 a.m. our people were awakened by explosions,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in a video address to the Council of Europe, a human rights organization. “Eighteen Russian missiles of various types were in our airspace, especially ballistic ones, which the terrorist state has boasted about.”
“We were told that such missiles would cause guaranteed death, because they are supposedly impossible to shoot down,” he said, adding: “But all lives were protected. All missiles were shot down, including ballistics – 100 percent. This is a historic result.”
It’s unclear whether the Patriot can intercept hypersonic missiles, which many experts say are too fast to be detected by radars in time for traditional air defense systems to respond.
Hypersonic weapons can travel at least five times the speed of sound – more than a mile per second – and maneuver to evade defenses. US officials have said the Kinzhal fits the definition, but some Western analysts have expressed doubts about its maneuverability.
Ukraine did not have the ability to intercept Kinzhals until recently and had been pushing allies for Patriot systems. Only two such systems are believed to be in Ukraine, and the weapons are considered crucial to the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive to drive Russian forces from its territory. Several dozen Ukrainian soldiers took a crash course this year on how to use the Patriot, which trained on American soil.
A single Patriot interceptor missile costs about $4 million, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Each launcher costs about $10 million. Some analysts consider the system far from foolproof, and there is some debate over the actual shooting rate.
Russia has attacked the Patriot before. On May 4, the Ukrainian Air Force said it had intercepted a Kinzhal — using the targeted Patriot system — for the first time since the outbreak of war in February 2022. Three senior US officials confirmed the shooting and said they had received information about the attack from the Ukrainian military. An official added that US military analysts had verified the claim by technical means.
Tuesday’s attack on Kiev was the eighth large-scale attack on the city this month. The barrage was extraordinary for the number of missiles launched in a short period of time, said Serhiy Popko, the head of Kiev’s military administration. Ukrainian officials said the attacks were designed to exhaust their air defenses.
The skies over Kiev lit up with thunderous explosions around 3 a.m. Tuesday as air defenses collided with the incoming missiles, sending debris raining down on the city. At least three people were injured, according to the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko. Cars caught fire, a building was damaged and debris fell on the grounds of the Kiev zoo, Klitschko said. None of the animals or workers were injured, he said.
Russia also launched nine Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea, three short-range land-based ballistic missiles and a number of drones, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces said.
The airstrike on Kiev came amid reports that the head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court, Vsevolod Knyazev, had been detained after being charged with corruption in which he received $2.7 million in bribes. A prosecutor confirmed the arrest at a press conference and said others are also under investigation.
The chief judge and a lawyer were “caught red-handed while receiving an illegal benefit,” Ukraine’s specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office said on the Telegram messaging app.
“This is a black day in the court’s history,” the Supreme Court judges said in a statement. “We must be worthy and withstand such a blow.”
The arrest comes amid continued pressure from Western allies on Mr Zelensky to crack down on corruption ahead of eventual EU accession negotiations, and as skepticism grows in the United States over billions in foreign aid. flowing into Ukraine.
Earlier this year, Mr Zelensky doubled down on high-profile enforcement to maintain confidence in the country’s wartime government, with authorities raiding civil servants’ homes and offices and firing some civil servants.
Russia’s last bombing came when Mr. Zelensky posted a video of himself on a train returning to Kyiv after a four-country tour of Western Europe during which he secured billions of dollars in military aid pledges.
Britain promised air defense missiles and drones in addition to the long-range cruise missiles it has recently delivered. Germany said it would provide a nearly $3 billion package, including air defense systems, drones, Leopard tanks and armored fighting vehicles.
Later, after Ukraine shot down Russian missiles, Mr. Zelensky said in his nightly address: “We used to hear that patriots were supposedly unrealistic. And now here they are, patriots.
Reporting contributed by John Ismay, Helen Cooper, Daniel Victor, Anushka Patil And Justin Jones.