Ukraine says it shot down Russian 'hypersonic' missiles

·3-min read

Ukraine says it shot down six Russian Kinzhal missiles in a single night, thwarting a weapon Moscow has touted as a next-generation hypersonic missile that was all but unstoppable.

When asked about the Ukrainian claim, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu dismissed it, the RIA news agency reported. His ministry said a Kinzhal had destroyed a US-built Patriot surface-to-air missile defence system.

"A high-precision strike by the hypersonic Kinzhal missile hit a US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile system in the city of Kyiv," the defence ministry said in a statement.

Two US officials said a Patriot system likely suffered some damage but had not been destroyed, and one said discussions on repairing it were underway and it did not appear the system would have to be removed from Ukraine.

Commander-in-chief of Ukraine's armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, had said earlier that his forces had intercepted the six Kinzhals launched from aircraft, as well as nine Kalibr cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and three Iskanders fired from land.

Russia's Shoigu was quoted as saying the number of claimed Ukrainian missile intercepts in general is "three times greater than the number we launch".

"And they get the type of missiles wrong all the time. That's why they don't hit them," he said, without elaborating.

It was the first time Ukraine had claimed to have struck an entire volley of multiple Kinzhal missiles, and if confirmed, would be a demonstration of the effectiveness of its newly deployed Western air defences.

The United States and the European Union have supplied Ukraine with weaponry to defend itself since Russia invaded in February 2022.

EU and NATO member Hungary has refused, however, to provide any military equipment to neighbour Ukraine, and on Tuesday, the government said it had blocked the next tranche of the EU's off-budget military support known as the European Peace Facility.

Air raid sirens blared across nearly all of Ukraine on Tuesday and were heard over the Ukrainian capital and the surrounding region for more than three hours.

"A year ago, we were not able to shoot down most of the terrorists' missiles, especially ballistic ones," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an address to the Council of Europe rights body in Iceland by video link.

"And I am asking one thing now. If we are able to do this, is there anything we can't do?"

The meeting of European leaders over two days was to focus on ways to hold Russia to account for its war, officials said.

Russia says its invasion was necessary to counter threats to its security posed by Ukraine's growing ties to the West.

Ukraine and its allies call it an unprovoked war of conquest and Ukraine says it won't stop fighting until all Russian forces leave its land.

The six Kinzhals were among 27 missiles Russia fired at Ukraine over 24 hours, Ukraine's military said in its evening update on Tuesday, lighting up Kyiv with flashes and raining debris after they were blasted from the sky.

It was unclear which Western weapon Ukraine used to defend against the Kinzhals. The Pentagon had no immediate comment.

For its part, Russia's defence ministry said its forces delivered a concentrated strike with long-range air- and sea-based high-precision weapons at Ukrainian forces, "as well as at places of storage of ammunition, weapons and military equipment delivered from Western countries".

Kyiv authorities said three people were wounded by falling debris.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said rocket debris had fallen in central districts, including on the city's zoo. No animals or workers were injured.