Ukraine Situation Report: Kyiv Claims Patriot Intercepted Kinzhal Air-Launched Ballistic Missile
After a denial, Ukraine revealed that its newly arrived Patriot missile battery intercepted a Russian Kinzhal missile during recent strikes.
The Ukrainian Air Force has confirmed that a MIM-104 Patriot missile system intercepted a Kh-47 Kinzhal air-launched 'hypersonic' ballistic missile over Kyiv in what could be a high-profile victory for the U.S. missile system just weeks after entering Ukrainian service.
Ukraine initially denied the interception despite a swath of open-source intelligence suggesting a Patriot got the kill. Photos from the downed missile’s crash site appear to show damage from an interceptor.
Being air-launched from Russian MiG-31K interceptors, the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal is an adaptation of the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile. While its higher potential speed and irregular flight profile could make it more challenging for a Patriot to intercept it, it is likely still within its capability.
Now, according to Ukraine, that has been proven to be the case. We also don't know what interceptor specifically was used, if indeed this intercept happened as stated, but there have been indications that Ukraine is using older generation missiles that remain highly capable, but are not as potent as the most recent PAC-3 offerings.
Before the Patriots entered combat in recent weeks, Kyiv’s air defenses had very little ability to counter the Kinzhal and its ground-launched Iskander-M cousin or S-300 SAMs used against ground targets. This is precisely why Ukraine sought Patriots to fill this gap in its defense network. The fact that Ukraine's Soviet-era SAMs may be running very low makes the Patriot's arrival even more important for countering many types of threats beyond ballistic missiles, including those posed by cruise missiles, drones, and fixed-wing aircraft.
Before we dive into the latest news from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can get caught up on our previous rolling coverage here.
Saturday’s intelligence update from the British Ministry of Defense noted the cancellation of six Russian regions’ May 9 Victory Day parades and celebrations over security concerns related to the war in Ukraine.
The update assessed this week’s drone attack on the Kremlin in Moscow as having “almost certainly raised the threat perception of the Russian leadership over the Victory Day events.” Potential protests and unrest over the war also likely influenced decisions to cancel.
Recent partisan actions in Russia suggest concerns about internal security likely have merit. Russian nationalist writer Zakhar Prilepin, a prominent pro-war voice who fought with separatist forces in the Donbas before the full-scale invasion, was seriously wounded and his driver killed after an explosion in Nizhny Novogrod Oblast east of Moscow. Video from the scene shows a vehicle flipped with serious damage and a sizable crater.
In the town of Yeysk across the Sea of Azov from occupied Mariupol, a video shows the driver of a car blow himself up as what appear to be Russian security forces attempt to storm his vehicle on the street. Yeysk hosts a nearby Russian Naval Aviation air base that has supported the war effort in Ukraine.
In its most recent control of terrain assessment, the Institute for the Study of War (@TheStudyofWar) noted Russian gains in and around the besieged city of Bakhmut.
At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defense appears to have deprioritized the Bakhmut frontline, instead shifting to the defensive as the Ukrainian counteroffensive looms.
This appears to correspond with the latest episode between Wagner Group PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense. Prigozhin claimed this week Wagner would pull out of Bakhmut on May 10 if its forces don't receive larger batches of ammunition, with the latest reports suggesting Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s troops will take Wagner’s place in the city.
Bakhmut is still smoldering after Russian forces blanketed the ruined town in glowing incendiary munitions. You can read our full report on this event here.
Fighting in Bakhmut proper remains intense, and footage from late April shows Ukrainian tanks shelling the Industrial College at point-blank range in fighting with Wagner mercenaries.
A large explosion rocked the city Saturday, reportedly when Ukrainian forces detonated a mined apartment block in an effort to stifle Russian advances.
As the long-awaited Ukrainian counteroffensive looms, occupied Crimea is increasingly on edge as strikes against Russian infrastructure grow more frequent.
Explosions rocked the city of Dzhankoi close to the former border between the occupied peninsula and southern Ukraine. Home to a major railyard and air base, both previously targeted in Ukrainian strikes, Saturday’s explosions may have led to a sudden exodus from the peninsula back to Russia.
Saturday’s Dzhankoi attack may be a continuation of Ukrainian efforts to prepare the battlespace for its counteroffensive, most recently evidenced by a series of strikes on Russian fuel depots.
The Ukrainian counteroffensive could possibly threaten the Russian-held road and rail junctions in Melitopol, cutting its link to Rostov Oblast via Berdyansk and Mariupol. Such a push would inevitably drive the masses toward the Crimean Bridge across the Kerch Strait. All of Russia’s overland supply to the peninsula would be limited to how much two rail lines, four highway lanes, and ferries can handle. That limited lifeline also has to be protected from another attack. Ferry traffic and other vessels can also help out, as they have after the bridge was stuck months ago, but logistics would be drastically constrained, regardless.
All the while signs further point to Ukrainian battle groups assembling, as video shows a column of M2 Bradleys and an M113 combat ambulance variant on a Ukrainian highway.
Satellite imagery shows more of the extensive fortifications Russian forces have built along avenues of advance from the frontline into occupied areas of Ukraine, with visible “Dragon’s Teeth” tank obstacles, trench lines, and dug-in firing positions near Svatove and Soledar.
Those trench lines could soon see the kind of vicious, close-in combat like that seen in the video below. Drone footage captures a Ukrainian soldier, callsign “Chinaz,” killing six Russians in a trench single-handedly.
Ukrainian first-person view (FPV) kamikaze drones remain a constant threat to Russian forces, as videos show hits on both a Russian tank and a 2S4 Tyulpan 240mm self-propelled heavy mortar.
The danger from the unexploded ordinance and mines left behind at former frontline areas persists across a swath of Ukrainian territory, and a Swiss company will supply Ukraine with 20 remote-controlled demining machines to assist in demining efforts. However, ongoing efforts remain high-risk, as a Russian artillery strike reportedly targeted an unarmed demining unit on the right bank of the Dnieper in liberated Kherson Oblast, killing six Ukraine Emergency Service officers.
Footage shows a Ukrainian FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank gunner with the 59th Motorized Brigade getting a long-range kill on a Russian tank in Donetsk Oblast.
Lastly, in the ongoing saga of wildlife finding its way into Ukrainian trenches, some troops found what looks like a blind mole rat. The buck-toothed subterranean creature was less than thrilled to find soldiers having intruded on its underground home. At this rate, the Ukrainians are a few species away from an entirely four-legged combat squad.
That's it for now. We'll update this story when we have more news to report about Ukraine.
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