Ukraine said Tuesday it shot down six Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles in a single night.
This is the first time Ukraine has claimed to have fired a full salvo of multiple hypersonic missiles, and if confirmed, it would demonstrate the effectiveness of the newly deployed Western air defenses.
Air raid sirens rang out across almost all of Ukraine on Tuesday morning and were heard in Kyiv and the region for more than three hours.
General Serhiy Nayev, commander of the combined forces of the armed forces, said, “The enemy’s mission is to spread panic and create chaos. But in the northern operational area (including Kyiv) everything is completely under control.”
Six Kinzhals, ballistic missiles that travel at more than 10 times the speed of sound, were among 18 salvos Russia fired into Ukraine overnight.
Zvezda military news outlet reported that the Russian Defense Ministry destroyed the US-made Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system with a Kinzhal missile.
However, Valery Zaluzny, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian military, said that all had been successfully stopped.
City officials in the Ukrainian capital said three people were injured by falling debris.
Serhiy Popko, head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, told Telegram: “It was extraordinary in terms of density, the maximum number of missiles that hit in the shortest possible time.”
Zvezda cited the Russian Defense Ministry as saying that the attacks were aimed at Ukrainian combat units and ammunition depots.
Zaluzny said his forces intercepted six Kinjals launched from aircraft, nine Kalibr cruise missiles from a ship in the Black Sea and three Iskanders launched from the ground.
Earlier this month, Ukraine claimed for the first time that it shot down a Kinjal missile over Kiev using a newly deployed American Patriot air defense system.
The Kinjal missile, named Dagger, can carry conventional or nuclear warheads up to 2,000 km. Russia admitted last year that it had used the weapon for the first time in the war in Ukraine and had fired only a few missiles.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has often cited Kinzl as evidence of the world’s best Russian military equipment capable of countering NATO.
As the Ukrainian army prepares for its first offensive in six months, Russia is now launching long-range airstrikes with the highest frequency of the war.
It has launched eight drone and missile volleys so far this month, compared to weekly and quieter in winter in March and April. Kiev is said to have been the most heavily pillaged.
Last week, Ukrainian forces made their biggest advance on the battlefield since last November, recapturing several square kilometers of territory on the northern and southern outskirts of the battleground town of Bukmut. Moscow acknowledged that some troops had retreated, but denied that the front was collapsing.
Kiev said these developments are local and do not yet represent the full force of the upcoming counterattack, which is expected to use hundreds of modern tanks and armored vehicles sent by the West this year.
The Ukrainian counter-offensive will bring about the next major phase of the war after Russia’s massive winter offensive failed to capture significant new territory despite Europe’s bloodiest ground battle since World War II.
Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year and now claims to hold about a sixth of its neighboring territory. Ukraine defeated Russian forces on the outskirts of Kiev at the start of the war and recaptured the region in two counter-offensives in the second half of 2022, but has put its troops on the defensive since November.
Russia said the invasion was necessary to counter the security threat posed by Kiev’s close ties with the West. Ukraine and its allies have called it an unjust and illegal war of conquest, and Kiev has said it will not stop fighting until all Russian troops leave its soil.
Meanwhile, European leaders met in Iceland on Tuesday for a two-day Council of Europe summit in a show of support for Ukraine.
Leaders will approve a new damage registry, a mechanism for recording and documenting evidence and claims of damage, loss or injury resulting from Russia’s invasion, according to a draft of the final statement seen by Reuters.
European leaders such as Germany’s Olaf Scholz, Britain’s Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron are attending the summit.