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All Russian Kinzhal missiles downed over Kyiv since arrival of Patriot systems, Ukrainian Air Force says

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 4, 2024 4:46 PM 3 min read
Remnant of Kh-47M2 Kinzhal missile at an exhibition showing remains of missiles and drones that Russia used to attack Kyiv on May 12, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Oleksii Samsonov /Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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All Kinzhal ballistic missiles fired by Russia at targets in Kyiv have been downed since the U.S. provided Patriot air defense systems in May 2023, Ukrainian Air Force Colonel Serhii Yaremenko said in an interview with Ukrinform published on July 4.

Kinzhal missiles are launched from MiG-31K aircraft and have an operational range of some 2,000 kilometers, which means that all of Ukraine is at risk if the missile is launched from Russian airspace.

Russia claims the advanced air-launched Kinzhal missile is hypersonic, and the weapon was considered near-impossible to intercept and shoot down before the arrival of Patriot systems.

Yaremenko, who is the commander of the 95th anti-aircraft missile brigade, said that Kyiv has been targeted by more than 20 Kinhzal missiles, but none of them have hit the capital.

"When we work against ballistics, it doesn't matter to us whether it's the Kh-47M Kinzhal, or the Iskander-M, or the 48N, or a Zircon," Yaremenko said.

Ballistic missiles are fired high into the atmosphere before falling to their targets in an arc, attaining speeds several times the speed of sound before hitting their target.

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Russia targeted a total of 12 Ukrainian oblasts – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Luhansk, Sumy, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia, Poltava, and Donetsk. Casualties were reported in the latter seven regions.

"For us, it is primarily a ballistic target," and only after expert analysis does the Air Force find out exactly what was downed, Yaremenko said.

"I will say only one thing: all the Kinzhals that were launched at the capital of Ukraine, from the moment it was announced that the Patriot anti-aircraft missile complex was put on combat duty, were all successfully intercepted."

Yaremenko added that "more than 20 Kinzhal missiles were launched over Kyiv and all of them were successfully intercepted" since May 2023.  

The first time a Kinzhal was downed over Kyiv was on May 3, 2023, at 2:35 a.m at an altitude of about 10 kilometers, Yaremenko said.

"We very carefully used the Patriot anti-aircraft missile complex," after receiving information that a Kinzhal had been fired from a Russian MiG-31K.

"At the moment when there were signs of a launch, we turned it on and identified the target. The speed was so high that there was no time to clarify the task, characteristics. I was told it was ballistics, I authorized the use of the Patriot, and it was destroyed," Yaremenko said.

Kyiv has been calling on its partners to provide additional air defenses as Russia intensifies its strikes against Ukrainian population centers and infrastructure.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in April that he will not say how many Patriot systems Ukraine has, but that "to cover Ukraine completely in the future, it is preferable to have 25 Patriot systems, with 6-8 batteries each."

In June, both Romania and the U.S. said they will provide Ukraine with an additional Patriot system, while the Netherlands said it would supply components for a Patriot system for Ukraine together with another country.

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Ukraine is grateful to Western partners for their support, but the pledged assistance is arriving too slowly, complicating the situation on the front lines, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with Bloomberg published on July 4.

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