Ukrainian air defences, bolstered by sophisticated western-supplied systems, have thwarted an intense Russian air attack on Kyiv, shooting down all missiles aimed at the capital, officials said.
The bombardment included six Russian Kinzhal aero-ballistic hypersonic missiles — the most fired in a single attack in the war so far — according to air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly touted the Kinzhals as a key strategic advantage for Russia, difficult to detect and intercept because of their hypersonic speed and other characteristics.
Mr Ihnat said Russia fired the Kinzhals from MiG-31K warplanes, along with nine cruise missiles from ships in the Black Sea and three S-400 cruise missiles launched from the ground.
Loud explosions boomed over Kyiv in the major nighttime attack apparently aimed at overwhelming Ukraine’s air defences. Kyiv’s mayor reported three people were wounded.
The barrage came as European leaders sought new ways to punish Russia for the war and a Chinese envoy sought traction for Beijing’s peace proposal, which so far appears to have made little impression on the warring sides.
It also came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky returned home from a whirlwind European tour to seek more military aid.
UK ambassador in Kyiv Melinda Simmons tweeted that the barrage was “pretty intense”, adding: “Bangs and shaking walls are not an easy night.”
It was the eighth time this month that Russian air raids had targeted the capital, a clear escalation ahead of a much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive using newly supplied advanced western weapons.
After the first onslaught, Russia also launched Iranian-made Shahed attack drones and conducted aerial reconnaissance, Mr Ihnat said.
Debris fell across several districts in the capital, starting fires, mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
While most of the ground fighting is stalemated along that front line, both sides are targeting other territory with long-range weapons.
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said a Kinzhal destroyed a Patriot missile battery in Kyiv but he did not provide evidence, and the statement could not be independently verified.
The bolstered air defences have deterred Russian aircraft from going deep into Ukraine and helped shape the course of the war, military experts say.