Ukraine thanks allies after ‘unstoppable’ Russian missiles destroyed over Kyiv

Moscow claims US-made Patriot air defence system hit as Ukraine mounts attacks near Bakhmut

Ukraine thanked western allies for providing it with advanced air defence systems after claiming to have intercepted all 18 missiles that Russia fired at Kyiv in its latest salvo, including six hypersonic Kinzhal rockets, which Moscow said cannot be shot down.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov countered that, in fact, “all designated targets were hit” in Ukraine during a “massive strike by air-and seaborne long-range high-precision weapons” in the early hours of Tuesday, and that a Kinzhal [“Dagger”] missile had destroyed a US-made Patriot air defence system guarding the Ukrainian capital.

The missile strike was the eighth on the city so far this month, as Russia and Ukraine both strike deep behind the front line with rockets and drones to weaken each other’s forces in advance of an expected uptick in fighting when Kyiv launches a planned counteroffensive.

“Another unbelievable success for the Ukrainian air forces! Last night, our sky defenders shot down six Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles and 12 other missiles,” Ukraine’s minister for defence Oleksiy Reznikov wrote on Twitter.


“Russian terrorists have no chance of prevailing over Ukraine. Their weapons can and should be countered by western ones. Thank you to our air force service members and our partner states, who invested in securing the skies over Ukraine and all of Europe.”

Earlier this month, the Pentagon confirmed that Ukraine had destroyed an incoming Kinzhal using one of two Patriot batteries that Kyiv is known to have received from the US and Germany. It was believed to be the first time that a Kinzhal missile had been destroyed by an air defence system, but Moscow denies that any of its most prized, multimillion-euro rockets have failed to reach their targets.

After a night of heavy explosions above Kyiv, the head of its military administration, Serhiy Popko, said the city had faced a “co-ordinated attack from different directions simultaneously, using drones, cruise missiles and, probably, ballistic missiles… It was exceptional in its intensity – the maximum number of attack missiles in the shortest period of time.”

The French foreign ministry said that “these unacceptable acts constitute war crimes and cannot go unpunished. France will continue to provide support to the Ukrainian courts and to the International Criminal Court in order to fight against impunity for such crimes.

“These strikes have once again deliberately targeted civilian targets, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, and mark Russia’s desire to continue escalating its war of aggression against Ukraine,” the ministry added in its statement.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy returned home on Tuesday after visiting Germany, Italy, France and the UK to press their leaders for swifter supplies of more weapons, and agreement to deliver modern western fighter jets to Kyiv.

No such deal has been publicly agreed, but Britain said it would start training Ukrainian pilots this summer “hand in hand with UK efforts to work with other countries on providing F-16 jets”.

Ukrainian ground forces commander Oleksandr Syrskyi compared Russia’s Wagner group mercenaries in Bakhmut to “rats in a trap” as Kyiv’s military advanced on the flanks around the devastated eastern city.

“Dear brothers... dear heroes, today you are creating history, the next page of our war, and it began literally three days ago when you went on the offensive,” he told Ukrainian troops near Bakhmut. “With your actions, you brought the entire Russian army to a standstill, because the Russians don’t know where the offensive is… or what is going on around Bakhmut.”

Ukraine’s deputy minister for defence Hanna Maliar said the country’s forces had retaken about 20sq km of territory around Bakhmut in recent days.

Russia has acknowledged falling back to “more advantageous” positions in some areas near Bakhmut, but denies suffering serious setbacks.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe