Russia conducted an “integrated attack” of targets in Kiev in the early hours of Tuesday that was “exceptional in its density,” RT reported quoting Ukrainian military officials.
The bombardment involved drones, cruise missiles and possibly ballistic missiles, the head of Kiev’s military administration, Sergey Popko, wrote on Telegram.
“The maximum number of attacking missiles was launched in the shortest period of time,” he said.
Popko claimed the “majority of enemy targets in the airspace of Kiev were detected and destroyed.”
The Telegram channel of the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, later claimed that a total of 18 missiles were launched at the capital overnight, of which all were destroyed by Kiev’s air defenses. Those included six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, nine Kalibr cruise missiles and three ground-launched Iskander ballistic missiles, the statement said.
The Kinzhal (Dagger) is a Russian hypersonic air-to-surface missile that has been in operation since 2017. It can travel at a speed of up to Mach 12 (around 14,800kph), while constantly performing evasive maneuvers, which is believed to allow it to penetrate any existing air defenses.
Last week, Ukrainian officials announced that a US-supplied Patriot system was able to shoot down a Kinzhal above Kiev. Moscow did not comment on those claims officially, but a high-ranking source in Russia’s Defense Ministry told RIA-Novosti that it was just “wishful thinking” on the part of the Ukrainians. The Patriot system doesn’t have the capability to intercept a hypersonic missile like the Kinzhal, he insisted.
Another unnamed Defense Ministry official, cited by Izvestia newspaper, pointed out that the debris that Kiev presented as proof of shooting down a Kinzhal actually belonged to another, much less sophisticated projectile.
Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko wrote on Telegram on Tuesday that debris from the missiles fell onto at least three districts of the city amid the Russian strike. Several cars were damaged and caught fire, but there were no injuries among the population, the former boxing champion said. Kiev zoo was also affected. However, there was no fire and the animals remained unhurt, Klitschko added.
Numerous videos allegedly made in Kiev overnight have been uploaded on social media, showing air defenses at work over the city.
The Russian Defense Ministry has not yet commented on the latest round of strikes. When previously reporting similar operations, the ministry usually insists that its missiles were able to destroy all intended targets.
Moscow began its large-scale missile campaign in Ukraine in October last year after accusing Kiev of using “terrorist tactics” and targeting Russian infrastructure, including the strategic Crimean Bridge.
Since then, numerous large-scale missile bombardments, involving various types of projectiles and kamikaze drones, have been carried out against Ukrainian military installations and energy facilities, leading to rolling blackouts and a depletion of the country’s air-defense capabilities.
The strikes across Ukraine resumed in early May after an almost two-month pause. According to Popko, this was the eighth major missile and drone attack on targets in Kiev since the beginning of the month.