The intercept of a series of Russian hypersonic missiles by Ukrainian air defense systems reportedly caused significant embarrassment in Russia, according to the British Ministry of Defence.
The incident occurred following Russia's drone and missile attack on Ukraine's capital, casting serious doubt on Russia's air supremacy claims.
Ukraine announced that its robust air defense system, combined with Soviet-era and Western-supplied weapons, successfully intercepted 18 of Moscow's missiles, including six hypersonic 'Kinzhal' rockets, the Daily Mail reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin previously touted these missiles as “unstoppable.” This formidable action taken by Ukraine occurs in the wake of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s declaration of plans to replenish Ukraine's weapons arsenal during a European tour.
Russia has tried to undermine Ukraine's air defense throughout May using its “Killjoy” ballistic missile system. The British Ministry of Defense revealed that Ukraine first successfully shot down one of these missiles on May 3rd. This event has marked a turning point, with Russia continuing to lose out to Ukraine's air defense.
The situation escalated on May 13th when two advanced combat jets and two helicopters belonging to the Russian Aerospace Forces were shot down over Russia's Bryansk region.
The Ministry of Defense expressed in a tweet that the escalating air threat over Russia's border region is of considerable concern for the Russian Aerospace Forces. The Russian Aerospace Forces typically use this area to launch air power to support the ongoing conflict.
In the face of these recent incidents, Russia firmly rejects any notion of the Kinzhal missiles failing. This stance stands in stark contrast to that of U.S. officials, who acknowledge that their $1.1 billion Patriot system, currently deployed with Ukrainian forces, may have sustained damage following a Russian missile strike on Kyiv.
Despite this, an anonymous official refuted claims that it had been destroyed by a Russian strike, suggesting it could likely be repaired within Ukraine.
Defense minister Sergei Shoigu of Russia was deployed to deny the Kyiv claim that six Kinzhal or Dagger missiles had been intercepted. Shoigu, however, remained skeptical, questioning who controls the American defense systems and casting doubts on the veracity of the Ukrainian claims.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously asserted that the "Mach 10 missile system" is impervious to interception by Western air and missile defense systems.
While it is impossible to discern the complete truth from these statements, the emergence of Shoigu underscores the significance of maintaining the narrative of an "unstoppable" hypersonic arsenal for the Kremlin to the Russian public.
Russia has claimed that during its most extensive missile bombardment of Kyiv, it made a massive strike on Ukrainian Armed Forces deployment points. This included ammunition, weaponry, and equipment storage units that received supplies from Western countries. They further claim that the Kinzhal hypersonic missile "destroyed" the American Patriot anti-aircraft missile system stationed in Ukraine.
Contrarily, Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov celebrated this event as an “unbelievable success,” stating that six Kinzhal missiles were shot down using the U.S.-made Patriot MIM 104 missile systems.
However, a Russian source cited by RIA Novosti state media argued that the U.S. Surface-to-Air Missiles were unexpectedly ambushed due to the high speed of the Kinzhal, leaving the anti-aircraft systems defenseless.
The interception of the hypersonic missiles, which represented a significant achievement of the Russian military, may prompt questions about Russia's air defense capabilities.
Meanwhile, the success claimed by Ukraine in intercepting these missiles marks a significant shift in the ongoing conflict.