According to the Ukrainian Air Force, it has successfully launched a Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missile. "I congratulate the Ukrainian people on a historic event!" Ukrainian Air Force Chief Mykola Oleshchuk wrote on his Telegram channel on Saturday. "Yes, we shot down the 'Incomparable' Kinshah," he added, using the missile's type name.
The Kinschal, repeatedly touted by Moscow as one of the best missiles of all, was intercepted over the Kiev region on Thursday night with the help of the US Patriot defense system.
Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced the Kinshah in 2018. He described it as "an ideal weapon" that would be very difficult to intercept with a missile defense system. Ukraine has asked its western allies to step up air defenses. Russia fired massive aerial fire on Ukraine's energy infrastructure last winter.
The first Patriot systems were delivered to Ukraine in mid-April. Patriot is considered the most advanced air defense system in the United States. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the system would "significantly" strengthen defenses against Russian attacks.
Previously, there had been speculation in Ukraine, which had been defending itself against a Russian war of aggression for more than 14 months, that Kinzhal had been shot down. Military bloggers, for example, published photos that are supposed to show the debris from the rocket. The information could not be independently verified. There was also no reaction from the Russian side.
The eight-meter-long Kinzhal rocket, whose name translates to "dagger" in German, is particularly feared because it can fly extremely high and extremely fast. It is therefore considered to be particularly difficult to intercept. If the Ukrainian air defense actually managed to shoot down such a thing, it would not only be a military success, but also an important symbolic one.