Ukraine said it repelled an unprecedented barrage of Russian missiles over Kyiv early on Tuesday, denying Moscow’s claims that it had succeeded in taking out a US-made Patriot system.
The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said all 18 projectiles, including six hypersonic Kinzhals and nine Kalibr cruise missiles, had been downed overnight. The latest air strikes, which come more than a year into Russia’s faltering full-scale invasion, caused at least a dozen loud explosions in Kyiv at around 3am.
“It was exceptional in its density — the maximum number of attack missiles in the shortest period of time,” said Serhiy Popko, head of Kyiv’s city military administration.
Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s defence ministry spokesman, claimed on Tuesday that one of the Kinzhals managed to take out a Patriot missile battery in Kyiv, suggesting that its attack was aimed at overwhelming and taking down Ukraine’s recently received western defence systems. Russia also said it had shot down seven UK-supplied Storm Shadow long-range missiles, without providing any further evidence.
Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister, said Russia’s claims were “pure propaganda and pure lies”.
Earlier this month, Kyiv said that one of two recently delivered US Patriot air defence units had for the first time downed a Russian Kinzhal ballistic missile, displaying a capacity Ukraine had previously not possessed.
The strikes came hours after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy completed a three-day tour in Europe, where he met senior officials in the UK, Germany, France and Italy, who pledged additional western weaponry, including air defence systems ahead of a widely expected counter-offensive.
“The main results of these days are new weapons for Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in a video address late on Monday. “Our victory has been brought closer,” he added.
Ukraine’s armed forces have yet to launch a campaign aimed at liberating more of eastern and southern regions where Russia occupies nearly a fifth of state territory. Zelenskyy’s pleas for additional air defences as well as western fighter jets, materiel not yet supplied, are aimed at providing better cover for ground troops.
The country’s capabilities have since late last year been boosted by Nato-grade systems provided by western backers, including the two long-range Patriots, and medium-range Nasams and Iris-Ts from Germany.
Separately, Russian media on Tuesday said five border guards were wounded in a Ukrainian drone strike on a border control centre in Kursk region on Monday evening. All five were hospitalised in a stable condition with shrapnel wounds, according to Baza and Mash, channels on the social media app Telegram with ties to Russian security services.