Russian military tried to strike the Patriot system in Ukraine last week with a Kinzhhal hypersonic missile, CNN reported citing officials.
As per the reports, the attack failed, and the Ukrainian military instead intercepted the hypersonic missile using the ‘under attack’ Patriot system.
The Ukrainian air defenders fired multiple missiles from the Patriot at different angles to intercept the Russian missile, demonstrating how quickly they have become adept at using the powerful system, one official said.
US officials believe the Russians picked up on signals emitted from the Patriot, allowing them to detect, identify and target the US-origin system.
Ukraine’s MoD had confirmed the downing of the Kinzhal missile and tweeted: @KpsZSU (Ukraine Air Force) confirms that Ukraine’s air defenders shot down Kinzhal, a hypersonic aeroballistic Russian missile, for the first time since the attacks began. This was done by operators of the Patriot air defense system.
However, a senior source in the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) told Ria Novosti that the Patriot system could not shoot down the Kinzhal hypersonic missile due to its technical specifications.
“The flight speed of the Kinzhal missile exceeds the maximum combat modes of anti-aircraft missile systems supplied by the West to the Kyiv regime, including the Patriot,” the source told Ria.
A Russian military expert said it was impossible to shoot down a hypersonic missile with a Patriot system. “You can’t hit a target that’s flying faster. That’s if you shoot it down on a head-on course. If you shoot down on a head-on course, the interceptor missile should fly 1.5 times faster than the “Dagger.”
Ex-US General Says West Is Concerned About Ukraine’s Victory
A former top US military official has highlighted Ukraine’s victory as the fundamental cause for concern among Western nations.
In an interview with ABC Action News on May 9, retired US Air Force General and former Supreme Commander of the NATO Joint Armed Forces in Europe, Philip Breedlove, said that Western states might not view a victory by Kyiv as a desirable solution to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Breedlove shed light on the potential consequences of Ukraine’s victory. Breedlove warns that the success of the Ukrainian side could pose a significant risk of nuclear escalation and trigger a crisis within the European territory.
He further suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin deliberately fueled such concerns to discourage foreign military assistance to Kyiv.
The former US General revealed that while Western nations are providing enough support to prevent Ukraine from suffering a crushing defeat, they are not providing the necessary resources to ensure victory on the battlefield.
Breedlove’s comments highlight a concerning reality: while Western nations have publicly voiced their support for Ukraine, there is a possibility that their ultimate goal is to weaken Russia rather than completely defeat Moscow.
Recently, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters, “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”
According to a former UK Air Force officer who spoke anonymously to EurAsian Times, the United States is wary of pursuing actions that could potentially lead to the disintegration of Russia.
The officer explained that such a scenario could heighten the risk of nuclear weapons falling into unauthorized hands, raising concerns about nuclear proliferation.
Additionally, the expert explained that most European countries have traditionally relied heavily on the United States for their security needs, and the US defense industry has greatly benefited from this arrangement.
For instance, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has triggered a surge in military weapon sales between the United States and foreign governments, with the fiscal year 2022 witnessing a staggering increase to almost $51.9 billion.
This uptick in sales can be attributed mainly to the rush of European allies to bolster their defense capabilities in response to the ongoing conflict.
However, if the perceived threat from Russia were to diminish, it could lead European countries to reduce their dependence on the US and lessen the influence of the US defense industry within Europe’s security framework.
US Officials Navigate A Delicate ‘Balancing Act’
According to officials, the United States and its allies face a delicate balancing act when imposing penalties on Russia.
This is due to concerns about the potential collateral damage that harsh sanctions could inflict on the global economy and the risk of provoking a backlash from Putin if he feels cornered.
A source familiar with US intelligence assessments on Russia told CNN about the need for a careful approach to punishing the country. Whether it involves implementing sanctions or providing military and intelligence support, there is a recognition of the necessity to strike a balance.
The source further emphasized that although the US continues to assess that Putin’s red lines for nuclear weapon use have not altered, one crucial aspect among those red lines is regime stability. This signifies that Putin might respond forcefully if he perceives a significant threat to his leadership.
Russia’s struggles and major defeats on the battlefield have given the United States more confidence. Earlier, the US worried that sending powerful weapons could worsen the situation.
However, US President Joe Biden’s recent announcement of sending tanks, missiles, and ammunition shows that those concerns have decreased.
Biden has also escalated his rhetoric when referring to Putin, progressing from labeling him a war criminal to expressing that he cannot continue to hold power and accusing him of committing genocide.
In addition, the United States is providing training to Ukraine’s armed forces on modern, NATO-compatible weapons systems. This initiative allows the US and its allies to equip Ukraine with more advanced and powerful weaponry at a faster pace.