Russia used a hypersonic missile for its massive attack on civilian targets in Ukraine

Russia used a hypersonic missile

Russian forces used hypersonic missiles among the 81 rockets launched in Thursday’s offensive against Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed, while Ukrainian military authorities acknowledged that their forces cannot effectively stop such weapons.

Air raid sirens blared over the capital for seven hours as Ukrainian air defenses shot down drones and all manner of cruise missiles, though according to preliminary reports a hypersonic missile hit its target.

“Long-range air, sea, and ground-based precision weapons, including the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system, hit key elements of Ukraine’s military infrastructure, enterprises of the military-industrial complex, as well as power facilities that supply them with power,” said a Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

“Unfortunately, a Kinzhal-type missile hit an infrastructure object,” said Serhi Popko, head of the Kyiv region military authority.

Putin’s army has used this type of missile before in Ukraine. In August, he reported that they had been released three times, beginning in July. “And all three times he showed brilliant characteristics,” Defense Minister Serguei Shoigu celebrated at the time.

Kinzhal (“dagger” in Russian) missiles are part of a suite of new hypersonic weapons that President Vladimir Putin unveiled in 2018 in a bellicose speech in which he said they could reach almost anywhere in the world and evade a missile shield developed by the United States.

The Kinzhal is eight meters long, weighs half a ton, and can be launched from both fighter and bomber aircraft. Its speed is five to ten times greater than sound and it has a range of more than 2,000 km.

According to a report cited by the Russian news agency TASS, in July 2018, this type of weapon could exceed 3,000 kilometers, if launched from a Tupolev Tu-22M bomber. This Russian dagger is a very difficult projectile to intercept due to its maneuverability. Its hypersonic feature allows it to change its trajectory in the air and swerve if necessary.

On Thursday, the head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed that Russia fired 81 missiles into Ukrainian territory early Thursday morning, including six Kinzhal missiles.

Valery Zaluzhny reported on Telegram the list of the arsenal used from different bases: 28 Kh-101/Kh-555 cruise missiles from the air; 20 Kalibr cruise missiles from the sea; six X-22 aerial cruise missiles; six Kh-47 Kinzhal aerial cruise missiles; eight guided air missiles: 2 – Kh-31P; 6-X-59; and 13 S-300 guided anti-aircraft missiles.

The use of hypersonic missiles is analyzed from two perspectives: it may be a new show of intimidation by the Kremlin or a sign of a depletion of the most “current” arsenal of rockets in the Russian forces.

Wave of attacks

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko reported explosions in the southwest of the capital. Through the Telegram messaging app, the mayor said that 40% of Kyiv consumers had lost power.

The Black Sea port of Odessa and the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, were also hit by missiles, in a wide arc of targets stretching from Yitomir, Vynnytsia and Rivne in the west to Dnieper and Poltava, in the center of the country, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

On Thursday morning, the Ukrainian army stated that Russian forces were attacking the mining town of Bakhmut and other eastern cities including Kupyansk, Liman, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk.

“During the last day, our soldiers repelled more than 110 attacks,” the Ukrainian army stated.

In turn, missiles knocked out power to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant during a series of attacks across Ukraine, as Ukrainian defenders repelled fierce assaults on the besieged city of Bakhmut. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, captured by the Russian military a year ago, was reliant on standby generators after Russian missiles damaged the Ukrainian infrastructure that supplied electricity to the plant, Ukrainian state power company Energoatom said in a statement.

In Odessa, the region’s governor Maksym Marchenko said on Telegram that a massive missile attack hit a power facility in the port city, cutting off power. Residential areas were also hit.

Kharkiv Region Governor Oleh Synehubov said the city and region were hit by 15 attacks, the targets of which include infrastructure. Other attacks were reported in the central city of the Dnieper and in regions across the country.

Russia, which has gone months without a significant battlefield victory, set its sights on Bakhmut last August. Fighting in the city has been some of the bloodiest since the invasion of Ukraine began in February last year, but so far the Russian military only claims to have taken the eastern half of the city.