Russia appears to have targeted one of two US Patriot anti-missile defence systems recently obtained by Ukraine during an unprecedented barrage of projectiles against Kyiv early on Tuesday.
A US official said some missiles had been directed at the Patriot system and that Washington was trying to assess the impact. The system’s radars were still working and able to track incoming missiles and intercept them, the official said.
It was possible that the Patriot system had been damaged, they added.
Earlier in the day, Moscow said one of its ballistic missiles had succeeded in destroying one of Ukraine’s Patriot systems. Kyiv denied the claim and said it successfully shot down all 18 Russian missiles.
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 brought down 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 spokesperson, claimed on Tuesday that one of the Kinzhals took out a Patriot missile battery in Kyiv, suggesting 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 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 Ukraine’s 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.”
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 two Patriots have added another layer to Ukraine’s air defences, which were struggling to deal with some of Russia’s more advanced missiles, such as the Kinzhal. On top of Ukraine’s Soviet-era air defence systems, western allies have also supplied Nasam systems and a state of the art Iris-T air defence unit from Germany, both of which have a more limited range than Patriots.
Separately, Russian media on Tuesday said five border guards were wounded in a Ukrainian drone strike on a border control centre in the 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.