Ukraine war: Kyiv says it shot down Russian hypersonic missiles
Ukraine claims to have shot down hypersonic rockets during an “exceptionally dense barrage” fired at Kyiv on Tuesday.
Kyiv reported that its air defenses had intercepted six Kinzhal missiles. Russia claims these hypersonic missiles can defeat all air defense systems.
Officials said that 18 different types of missiles were fired in quick succession at the city.
Russia denies that its Kinzhals were stopped, but claims one of them destroyed an air defense system supplied by the US.
Ukraine declined to comment. BBC can’t independently verify claims made by either nation.
Russia has intensified its air campaign, bombarding the Ukrainian capital 8 times in this month alone. This is ahead of a possible Ukrainian offensive.
Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Minister of Defence, said on Tuesday evening that Moscow did not fire as many Kinzhal missiles against Kyiv as it claimed.
However, if Ukraine’s claims are true, Moscow will be feeling frustrated that the finest weapons from its missile fleet are now able to be intercepted. This is in large part due to the arrival of modern Western defense systems, including the Patriots.
Russia continues to insist that the missiles, which it says can travel at more than 11,000kmh (7,000mph), cannot be destroyed by any of the world’s air defense systems.
The Kinzhal, or “dagger”, is an air-launched ballistic missile. Most ballistic missiles reach hypersonic speed – five times the speed of sound, or just over 6,000 kmh – at some point during their flight.
Kyiv said it shot down a Kinzhal for the first time last week.
In the past few days, President Volodymyr Zelensky has been on a European tour in which he has been promised several billion dollars worth of military equipment by Western allies, including UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and President Emmanuel Macron of France.
During Tuesday’s barrage footage showed air defences destroying targets over the city.
The head of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valerii Zaluzhny, said Russia attacked Kyiv from the north, south, and east and that 18 air, sea, and land-based missiles had been used.
Serhiy Popko, head of the Ukrainian capital’s military administration, described the barrage as being the “maximum number of attack missiles in the shortest period of time”.
Gen Zaluzhny said that also included nine Kalibr cruise missiles, which were launched from ships in the Black Sea, and three land-based missiles.
Residents on Tuesday were warned to keep away from windows as debris from intercepted missiles fell from the sky.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said rocket debris had fallen in central districts, including on the city’s zoo. No animals or workers were injured.
Kyiv resident Kseniia told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that she and her husband were asleep when they heard a “series of very loud explosions” above their building. She compared the intensity of the attack to a Star Wars film or an action video game.
She also said that thanks to the support of its international allies, Ukraine is now capable of tracking down and destroying high-caliber missiles.
“It’s such a relief to know Kyiv is under such a strong defense right now”.
Another resident, Yevhen Petrov, said Tuesday’s attack was the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 that his house had shaken from the force of an assault.
Russia’s resumption of strikes on Kyiv earlier this month came after a lull of over 50 days. The Ukrainian authorities believe Moscow’s strategy is to exhaust the air defense systems, which have been extremely successful in intercepting most of the missiles and drones fired.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, thousands of civilians and combatants have been killed or injured, cities and towns have been destroyed in fighting, and 8.2 million Ukrainians have been registered as refugees in Europe with 2.8 million of them in Russia, according to data provided to the UN’s refugee agency.