Russia unleashed its ‘unstoppable’ Kinzhal hypersonic missiles for the first time in Ukraine, the defence ministry said today, destroying a weapons storage site in the country’s west on Friday.
Russia has never before admitted using the high-precision weapon in combat, and state news agency RIA Novosti said it was the first use of the Kinzhal hypersonic weapons during the conflict in pro-Western Ukraine.
Moscow claims the ‘Kinzhal’- or Dagger – is ‘unstoppable’ by current Western weapons. The missile, which has a range of 1,250 miles, is nuclear capable. This was a conventional strike.
‘The Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aeroballistic missiles destroyed a large underground warehouse containing missiles and aviation ammunition in the village of Deliatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region’, the Russian defence ministry said Saturday.
Russian Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov also said that the Russian forces used the anti-ship missile system Bastion to strike Ukrainian military facilities near the Black Sea port of Odesa.
Aerial footage released by the Russian military claimed to show the missile strike. Large, long buildings are shown in the footage in a snowy region, before one is obliterated by a huge explosion – sending flames, earth and debris high into the air. People can be seen on the ground fleeing as smoke pours from the site.
Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ignat confirmed that a storage site had been targeted, but added that Kyiv had no information regarding the type of missile that was used.
‘The enemy targeted our depots’ but ‘we have no information of the type of missile,’ he said. ‘There has been damage, destruction and the detonation of munitions. They are using all the missiles in their arsenal against us.’
Russia reportedly first used the weapon during its military campaign in Syria in 2016 to support the Assad regime, although it was unclear if this was the same model. Some of the most intense bombing came in 2016 during the battle for Aleppo, resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has termed the missile ‘an ideal weapon’ that flies at 10 times the speed of sound and can overcome air-defence systems.
Deliatyn, a picturesque village in the foothills of the picturesque Carpathian mountains, is located outside the city of Ivano-Frankivsk. The region of Ivano-Frankivsk shares a 30-mile long border with NATO member Romania.
Since Putin’s invasion on February 24, most of the fighting has taken place in Ukraine’s east – closer to Russia – as Moscow’s forces struggle to make significant gains further into the country.
However, in recent days there have been signs of more western strikes, with one person being killed overnight in a missile attack near Lviv, the closest strike yet to the centre of the western city – where thousands have fled to.
The strike comes as Ukraine’s forces continue to put up a fierce resistance against the invading armies, which have been forced to resort to seemingly indiscriminate artillery strikes on population centres.
Moscow’s troops have been stalled for days. Kyiv has claimed the invaders have suffered almost 15,000 casualties.
American sources estimate the number is lower, saying that 7,000 Russian troops have died so far in the fighting, including four major generals and a number of other senior officers.
Reports on Saturday said that a fifth Russian general had been killed.