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NATO Should Worry: Russia Is Attacking Ukraine with Hypersonic Missiles

Hypersonic Kinzhal
A Kh-47M2 Kinzhal ALBM being carried by a Mikoyan MiG-31K interceptor.

Russia’s Hypersonic Missile Attack Explained – The Russian military confirmed on Saturday that hypersonic missiles were used in Ukraine for the first time. The weapons were used to destroy an ammunition depot in the western region of Ukraine.

It comes as Russia struggles to take control of Kyiv and the invasion of Ukraine enters its fourth week.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that the military deployed the Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic ballistic missiles on Friday. He described how the weapons destroyed an underground warehouse that was used to store missiles and other aviation ammunition in the small village of Delyatyn, almost 400 miles to the west of Kiev.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense shared a video of the missile strike on the arms depo on Twitter.

“Destruction of a weapons depot of the Armed Forces of Ukraine by high-precision missile weapons strike,” the post reads.

“We can see the exact hit of an underground hangar with weapons and ammunition.”

What is the Kinzhal “Dagger” Missile?

A hypersonic missile can be used to deliver both conventional warheads and nuclear weapons. This time, the missiles were used to deliver normal warheads in a more damaging and precise way.

The Kinzhal missile, also known as the “Dagger” missile, is one of a number of new weapons that were unveiled by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his 2018 State of the Union address. He revealed at the time that the new missile was capable of reaching speeds of Mach 10 and that it can travel as far as 2,000km. The missile is also designed to perform evasive maneuvers at all stages of flight, meaning that it can avoid anti-missile systems.

With its ability to avoid air-defense systems, Putin has described the missile as the “ideal weapon.”

Is It a Game-Changer?

James Acton, a nuclear policy expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the BBC that the missile is not necessarily a game-changer given that Iskander missiles, which have already been used in Ukraine, cause just as much damage.

Iskander-M

Iskander ballistic missile. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia's Tactical Nuclear Weapons

Iskander Transport Loader 9T250

“I don’t view it as that significant,” Acton said. “I don’t know how much of an advantage Russia is getting from using hypersonic missiles.”

Russia has reportedly fired more than 1,080 missiles since the invasion began on February 24.

“That is an astonishing number and a very significant fraction of Russia’s pre-war inventory,” Acton said. “They may very well be running short of accurate munitions.”

With munitions running low, Russia may soon resort to alternative lines of attack against Russia to break the Ukrainian military’s grip over Ukraine and other Western major population centers.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Alex

    March 19, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    All of Russia’s hypersonic missiles have reached their targets in Ukraine. Was there at least one force majeure? Now think about it, writer.

  2. Greenman

    March 19, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    The Russians only declare they have used a weapon such as the hypersonic missile, when they are in a difficult position. Normally these weapons are in short supply, so the russians are like a poker player attempting to pretend they have a strong hand. In this case I consider the use of the hypersonic missile as a definite sign of Russian weakness.
    Aside from which, seeking to up the ante in Ukraine is plainly foolish, since it might convince the usa to release mig29’s to ukraine.

  3. Alex

    March 20, 2022 at 12:22 pm

    It was funny 🙂 It turns out that using the latest weapons is a weakness. Or maybe weakness is the inability to create it? 🙂 I understand this envy 🙂 Russia has a lot of hypersonic missiles in service, because they were preparing to defend themselves far from Ukraine. As far as we know, every day dozens of such missiles enter service with Russia.

  4. CDub

    March 20, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    Why would the Russians use a hyper sonic missile? Absolutely no need for this technology unless they are running out of their conventional missiles. All reports say that their stocks of highly accurate weapons are short and I believe this is evidence of that fact.

  5. Jacksonian Libertarian

    March 20, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    What target in Ukraine could merit a multi-million dollar hypersonic missile? Or for that matter the 700+ million dollar cruise, and ballistic missiles Russia has already fired? $1+ billion and the only result in the news is the muster of foreign volunteers on the border of Poland. Ukraine had already dispersed everything by day 1, and initial Russian missile attacks had no effect.
    “I’m not going to fire a million dollar missile to hit a camel in the ass” said Bush at the beginning of the war on terror.

  6. TrustbutVerify

    March 20, 2022 at 6:25 pm

    If this was an ammo bunker and missile storage location…where are the secondary explosions? You had a high order detonation…but only a small fire. If there was ammunition and missiles with fuel in there, there would be secondary explosions and a conflagration.

    So fire the fast missiles if that is all you have left…pretty soon they will be drawn down too…then what?

  7. Alex

    March 20, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    CDub: In whose reports? No intelligence agency in the world has accurate data. Again, the mother’s warrior is trying to pass off a lie as “true sources” 🙂

  8. mrtea

    March 21, 2022 at 7:26 am

    Every western news site portrays Russia as a paper tiger. They will take Mariupol and civilian deaths will be on Zelensky. The mighty USA and NATO took almost 2 months to conquer an Iraq with out any high tech help or weapons. Russia is nothing if not resilient and they’ve been preparing their people for a protracted war and occupation if necessary.

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