The Ukrainian forces have claimed downing a Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile, which is projected as “invincible” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This could bring some cheer to the beleaguered Ukrainian troops that Russian missile strikes have increasingly targeted.
The spokesperson of the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Inhat, announced that the Ukrainian forces shot down an X-47M Kinzhal ballistic missile over Kyiv in one of the aerial strikes conducted by Russian troops on December 14, Ukrainian media claimed.
“One missile was shot down,” said Ihnat. This was later confirmed by Commander of the Air Forces Gen. Mykola Oleshchuk. However, there has been no word on this from the Russian MoD. EurAsian Times could not independently corroborate these claims when publishing this report.
The reports in Ukrainian media stated that the residents of the capital heard loud explosions attributed to the operation of the Ukrainian air defense systems. According to the spokesperson, the Russian forces launched Kinzhal hypersonic missiles and some decoy targets to confuse and evade the air defenses.
“This is necessary to confuse Ukrainian air defense and to understand its operating characteristics,” Ihnat explained. The spokesperson further warned that Russia may employ the Kinzhal missile again to strike targets inside the capital, Kyiv, which has come under attack on multiple occasions in recent days.
🇷🇺🇺🇦‼️🚨 A powerful hit in Kyiv yesterday, probably one of the Kinzhal missiles. pic.twitter.com/sEayA1AGPN
— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) December 15, 2023
The Kinzhal is a Russian hypersonic missile that could reach speeds greater than Mach 10 and travel 1,500 to 2,000 kilometers while carrying a conventional or nuclear payload. It is fired using the MiG-31K aircraft of the Russian Air Force, although the Su-34 has also reportedly test-fired a Kinzhal on Ukraine earlier this year.
On December 14, the takeoff of MiG-31K fighter jets resulted in the announcement of four air raid alarms in Ukraine. The Air Forces announced that X-47 Kinzhal missiles had targeted Kyiv, Starokostiantyniv, Khmelnytskyi Oblast, and Sumy Oblast.
The Ukrainian spokesperson had earlier told the news outlet that the Russian Kinzhal missile could reach Kyiv in under two minutes, an assertion several military watchers have also made. For instance, an armed forces watcher wrote on Platform X that the missile could reach any part of Ukraine within minutes and posted a pictorial representation of the time it would take for the Kinzhal to get to some specific Ukrainian cities.
However, this is not the first time that Ukraine has shot down the “invincible” Russian hypersonic missile. In May this year, Ukrainian forces claimed that they had shot down six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles in a single night using the venerable Patriot missile defense systems.
Nobody is safe in Ukraine. Russian missiles Kinzhal can reach any part of Ukraine in few minutes. Patriot system is the only air defense that can stop them. pic.twitter.com/eS40ADafCX
— Roman Sheremeta 🇺🇦 (@rshereme) December 15, 2023
Oleksii Reznikov, the former Minister of Defence of Ukraine, tweeted, “Another unbelievable success for the Ukrainian Air Forces! Last night, our sky defenders shot down six Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles and 12 other missiles.”
However, these claims were shortly dismissed by Russians, who touted the Kinzhal as an unstoppable next-generation missile. When asked about the Ukrainian claim, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu dismissed it and instead told his state media agencies that the rocket had damaged a Patriot battery.
Almost as big as @Vitaliy_Klychko – Kyivs mayor is proud that the military was capable of shooting down the #kinshal rocket in his city: „Through the Patriot systems, we have now been able to show what is possible with modern defense systems. This air defense makes our lives… pic.twitter.com/o2hsCc8ELg
— Paul Ronzheimer (@ronzheimer) May 10, 2023
“A high-precision strike by the hypersonic Kinzhal missile hit a U.S.-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile system in Kyiv,” the defense ministry said in a statement. However, the Ukrainians have not dithered and have consistently maintained that their Patriot missile defense could shoot down Kinzhals.
The incident also started a debate about the potency of these missiles, with some analysts claiming that the Russian hypersonic rocket could not live up to the hype created by officials.
Additional Patriot Battery For Kyiv
The above episode and the claims made by the warring sides also brought the combat efficacy of the Patriot missile defense to the limelight, with experts noting that it could be the most credible test of the Patriot’s cutting-edge capabilities. However, Ukraine said it needed more than the two Patriot batteries it was armed with.
That demand has finally been fulfilled by the second-larger military aid provider of Kyiv- Germany.
Authorities in Ukraine announced on December 15 that Germany had successfully delivered a second Patriot air defense system. According to a document on the official government website, Berlin has sent a dual Patriot system, complete with launchers, missiles, and spare components.
In August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Germany and Ukraine had agreed to supply additional Patriot air defense missile systems to Kyiv.
“Today there is good news from Germany – exactly what we agreed with (German Chancellor) Olaf Scholz. There are additional Patriot systems. Thank you very much, Olaf; it is necessary for the defense of our people against Russian terror,” Zelenskiy said at the time.
The announcement followed Germany’s decision to ship two more Patriot launchers to Ukraine. “This will bring us closer to creating a full-fledged air shield for Ukraine. This will help people, cities, villages,” Zelenskiy said.
More recently, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in October that his country was working on supplying an additional Patriot air defense missile system to Ukraine for winter. “This is most necessary now — to ensure air defense with this highly efficient system,” Scholz said after the first day of the EU Political Community summit in Granada, Spain.
The German Chancellor noted that much like its tactics last year, Russia would once again target Ukraine’s energy infrastructure to restrict its military operations. In the face of those threats, the supply of air defense systems was a priority, he noted. Berlin has delivered on its promise just in time, and Russia carries out a barrage of missile strikes on Kyiv.
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