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Russian missiles that Patriots have beaten before are slipping through cracks in Ukraine's defenses

A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet equipped with a Kinzhal missile flies over Red Square during a rehearsal for a flypast, part of a military parade marking the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two in central Moscow on May 7, 2022.
A Russian MiG-31 fighter jet equipped with a Kinzhal missile flies over Red Square during a rehearsal for a flypast, part of a military parade marking the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two in central Moscow on May 7, 2022.REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
  • Russia launched a huge attack against Ukraine on Friday, firing more than 150 missiles and drones.

  • The assault included seven Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles.

  • Ukraine's Patriot systems have downed these missiles before, but all seven got through on Friday.

Russia launched a massive and deadly aerial attack against Ukraine early on Friday, firing a barrage of more than 150 missiles and drones at targets across the country.

The assault included a mix of 88 cruise, ballistic, and anti-aircraft missiles, the latter repurposed for surface strike, and 63 Shahed one-way attack drones, according to the Ukrainian defense ministry, which said its forces shot down 92 of the munitions, including dozens of drones and cruise missiles.

Kyiv, however, was unable to intercept any of the seven Kh-47M2 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, or the dozen Iskander-M missiles on which they're based, that Russia launched during the huge assault, which targeted energy facilities across Ukraine, killing at least five people and injuring 26 others.

Moscow has touted the Kinzhal as virtually unstoppable and claimed the missile is a hypersonic weapon. This claim is misleading, however, because although the missile can reach hypersonic speeds it lacks key characteristics that would allow it to be classified as such.

In this photo provided by Telegram Channel of Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, smoke and fire rise over the Dnipro hydroelectric power plant after Russian attacks in Dnipro, Ukraine, Friday, March 22, 2024.
In this photo provided by Telegram Channel of Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, smoke and fire rise over the Dnipro hydroelectric power plant after Russian attacks in Dnipro, Ukraine, Friday, March 22, 2024.Telegram Channel of Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal via AP

Ukraine has said it has successfully shoot down at least two dozen Kinzhal missiles using the American-made MIM-104 Patriot since the vaunted surface-to-air missile system arrived in the country nearly a year ago.

Kyiv operates five long-range Patriot batteries, which have been praised for intercepting scores of deadly threats launched by Russia. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared to suggest that his country still needs more of the advanced air-defense systems.

"Patriot systems must protect Kharkiv and Zaporizhzhia," he wrote on social media following Friday's attack, suggesting these parts of the country are unprotected. "Air defense is required to protect people, infrastructure, homes, and dams."

Rescue team works at a site of residential buildings destroyed by a Russian missile strike in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 22, 2024.
Rescue team works at a site of residential buildings destroyed by a Russian missile strike in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine on March 22, 2024.REUTERS/Stringer

"Our partners know exactly what is needed. They can definitely support us," Zelenskyy said. "These are necessary decisions. Life must be protected from these savages from Moscow."

Kyiv maintains a formidable arsenal of air-defense assets alongside the Patriots, which includes Soviet-era systems and others provided by the West. But Ukrainian officials, including Zelenskyy, have repeatedly said that the existing capabilities are not enough to protect the country from unrelenting Russian bombardments.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said it's "critical" that the US provide Ukraine with more air-defense systems to protect the country from "brutal" attacks such as the one on Friday.

FILE - Patriot missile launchers acquired from the U.S. last year are seen deployed in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 6, 2023.
FILE - Patriot missile launchers acquired from the U.S. last year are seen deployed in Warsaw, Poland, on Feb. 6, 2023.AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk, File

"Lives are on the line," she wrote on social media, urging Republican lawmakers in Congress to end their months-long hold on funding to would unlock much-needed military aid for Ukraine.

The US announced a surprise $300 million security assistance package earlier this month that the Pentagon called an "extraordinary measure," but Ukrainian and Western officials still say Kyiv needs more support to fend off Moscow's attacks.

"Russian missiles have no delays, unlike aid packages for Ukraine. 'Shahed' drones have no indecision, unlike some politicians," Zelenskyy said on Friday. "It is critical to understand the cost of delays and postponed decisions."

Read the original article on Business Insider