Putin hits Kyiv with 'exceptionally complex' drone and missile strikes

Ukraine shoots down six of Putin’s ‘unstoppable’ hypersonic missiles as Russia hits Kyiv with ‘exceptionally complex’ attack that ‘destroyed US Patriot air defence system’

  • Moscow launched several waves of drones and missiles on Ukrainian capital
  • The Tuesday morning attack came hours after Zelensky met with Rishi Sunak 

Russia launched a brutal drone and missile attack on Ukraine’s capital early this morning, just hours after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said he would be returning from a European tour with a restocked weapons arsenal.

Ukraine claimed its robust air defence system, comprised of Soviet-era and Western-supplied platforms, managed to successfully shoot down 18 of Moscow’s missiles, six of which were reportedly hypersonic ‘Kinzhal’ missiles which Vladimir Putin once boasted were ‘unstoppable’.

But the Russian Defence Ministry in turn claimed one of its missiles had successfully destroyed a US-designed and supplied Patriot air defence system – a feat amounting to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of state-of-the-art technology that could leave the Ukrainian capital vulnerable to further attacks.

The claim is yet to be confirmed, though a grainy security camera video circulating on the Telegram messaging app appears to show the moment a surface-to-air battery explodes after exhausting all of its ammunition amid the attacks.

Officials in Kyiv said Moscow’s strike – the eighth on the Ukrainian capital this month and certainly the most intense – involved drones, cruise missiles and probably ballistic missiles launched ‘from different directions simultaneously’.

Ukrainian military general Serhiy Popko said the nighttime onslaught had been ‘exceptionally complex and dense’.

‘The maximum number of rockets were fired at the city in the shortest period of time… the vast majority of enemy targets in the airspace of Kyiv were detected and destroyed.’

The busy Solomyansky district of Kyiv, home to the international airport, was the most heavily damaged, with a fire breaking out in a non-residential building.

According to Telegram posts by Mayor Vitali Klitschko, three people were injured in Solomyansky, while missile debris fell on Obolonsky district, a leafy outer suburb.

Explosion of a Russian-launched missile in the sky over Kyiv this morning

Kyiv officials said the attack – the eighth on the capital this month – involved drones, cruise missiles and probably ballistic missiles launched ‘from different directions simultaneously’

Emergency services trying to contain a fire after a Russian missile strike

Firefighters battle flames in the wake of Russia’s latest attack on Kyiv  

Missile debris after a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 16, 2023

Air defence missiles are seen impacting targets over Kyiv

Grainy security camera video circulating on the Telegram messaging app appears to show the moment a surface-to-air battery explodes after exhausting all of its ammunition amid the attacks

The latest attack on Kyiv follows Mr Zelensky’s collection of fresh arms delivery pledges from Berlin, Paris and London, deepening a military arrangement between the West and Ukraine that has helped put Russia on the back foot.

After his whirlwind tour of major European capitals, Mr Zelensky tweeted last night that he was ‘returning home with new defence packages’.

READ MORE: How much military support has Britain given Ukraine? 

Ukrainian forces are widely believed to be gearing up for a long-awaited counter-offensive against Russian troops, with gains already claimed around the flashpoint of Bakhmut.

But Mr Zelensky has yet to succeed in his coveted goal of enlisting Western fighter jets to seize command of the skies, although Rishi Sunak yesterday announced preparations to open a flight school to train Ukrainian pilots.

France has also offered to train Ukrainian fighter pilots, though president Emmanuel Macron ruled out sending warplanes to Kyiv.

And while Russia’s ally China vies to act as a peace broker, sending an envoy to Kyiv this week, Moscow’s reported attempt to acquire more drones with military collaborator Iran has caused ire in Washington.

‘This is a full-scale defense partnership that is harmful to Ukraine, to the region in the Middle East, and to the international community,’ US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said yesterday, adding that further sanctions would soon be announced.

Mr Zelensky’s tour to shore up military assistance to help make his troops more battle-ready began in Italy, with weekend visits to France and Germany, followed by yesterday’s stop in the UK.

France offered dozens more light tanks and armoured vehicles, while Germany said it was preparing a military package worth €2.7billion (£2.35million) – its biggest yet for Ukraine.

At Mr Sunak’s official country residence of Chequers yesterday, Mr Zelensky won the promise of hundreds more air-defence missiles and long-range attack drones.

Dressed in his trademark fatigues, Mr Zelensky gave a bear hug to Mr Sunak after disembarking from a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter.

He said the crisis was a matter of ‘security not only for Ukraine, it is important for all of Europe’.

Sunak noted that the Chequers meeting was taking place in the buildup to a Council of Europe leaders’ meeting in Iceland and a G7 summit in Japan.

‘The front lines of Putin’s war of aggression may be in Ukraine, but the fault lines stretch all over the world,’ Mr Sunak said.

Russia said the new UK weapons would cause ‘further destruction’ and claimed to have downed a Storm Shadow cruise missile that Britain last week said it was providing, in the West’s first deployment of long-range missiles for Ukraine – though Mr Kirby said he was unable to confirm the reports.

The timing and focus of Ukraine’s high-stakes counter-offensive remain unclear, but Mr Zelensky’s tour of European capitals underscored the importance of securing Western heavy weapons and ammunition.

A firefighter works at a site of car park damaged by remains of Russian missiles overnight

Ukrainian air defence systems are seen launching to knock out incoming missiles

Volodymyr Zelensky is welcomed by France’s president Emmanuel Macron upon his arrival at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris at the weekend

Rishi Sunak with Mr Zelensky at Chequers, the prime minister’s official country residence, yesterday

The two leaders greeted each other with a hug after the Ukraine president landed in Chinook helicopters

Mr Zelensky visited Britain on Monday on his whirlwind European tour, as the staunch ally of Kyiv promised to give Ukraine hundreds more missiles and attack drones in an effort to change the course of the war

The head of Russia’s private Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has again accused the Russian army of inaction around Bakhmut

READ MORE: Kremlin issues chilling warning of ‘retaliatory actions’ to Britain as Rishi Sunak pledges more missiles and drones for Ukraine 

On the ground, the fighting appears poised to increase after months of stalemate.

Kyiv said the southern region of Kherson came under ‘massive enemy attack’, damaging several residential buildings.

Meanwhile, seven people, including a Moscow-installed senior official and a teenager, were injured in a blast in Russian-controlled Lugansk, local officials said.

Ukrainian forces said they have captured more than 10 Russian positions on the outskirts of Bakhmut, where a fierce battle for control began nearly a year ago.

Russia said two of its military commanders had been killed in combat near the town.

The head of Russia’s private Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has again accused the Russian army of inaction around Bakhmut.

But he dismissed as ‘laughable’ a Washington Post report that he had offered information on Russian troop positions to Ukraine in January in return for respite for Wagner forces.

In another sign of tensions with the West, Russia said yesterday it had scrambled a Su-27 fighter jet over the Baltic Sea to intercept two aircraft, one German and one French, which Moscow said had attempted to ‘violate’ its airspace.

‘After turning the foreign military planes away from the Russian Federation state border, the Russian fighter [jet] returned safely to its airbase,’ the Russian defence ministry said in a statement

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