Ukraine claims 6 Kinzhal missiles downed; Russia claims Patriot system destroyed

Fires after a Russian attack in Kyiv on May 16, 2023 (State Emergency Service of Ukraine)

The Ukrainian military claims to have shot down all missiles launched from air, sea, and land by Russia, including six Kinzhal hypersonic missiles during the night between May 15 and 16, 2023. Meanwhile, Russian authorities claim to have destroyed one of the recently deployed US-made Patriot air defense systems during the same attack. 

On the morning of May 16, 2023, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that 18 missiles were launched by Russia during the night.  

These included:

  • Six Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missiles launched from MiG-31K fighters 
  • Nine Kalibr cruise missiles launched from ships in the Black Sea 
  • Three land-based missiles, namely S-400 and Iskander-M 

Following the missile strikes, six Iranian-made Shahed-136/131 loitering munitions were also launched.  

According to the General Staff, all weapons along with three observation drones were destroyed. It also announced that Ukrainian aviation targeted seven enemy anti-aircraft missile systems. 

“Another unbelievable success for the Ukrainian Air Forces!,” Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defense of Ukraine, said on Twitter. “Last night, our sky defenders shot down SIX russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles and 12 other missiles.” 

Hours later, Russia’s defense ministry claimed that one Patriot anti-aircraft missile system was saturated and destroyed by the incoming missiles.  

“A high-precision strike by the Kinzhal hypersonic missile system in the city of Kyiv hit a US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile system,” the Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a press briefing.

Debris from intercepted missiles caused some material damage as it fell back onto the city.  

Fragments of one of the missiles fell onto Kyiv Zoo, according to the capital city’s mayor Vitaliy Klitschko. 

“Fortunately, none of the animals or workers were injured,” Klitschko said in a Telegram post. “The rocket fragment damaged the greenery, but all the broken branches have already been removed.” 

Russian attacks were reported in other parts of Ukraine. In total, six people have been killed in Kharkiv and Donetsk oblasts, The Kyiv Independent reported on May 16, 2023, quoting the governors of the affected regions. 

Both Ukraine and Russia have repeatedly pitted the Kinzhal against the Patriot in their official communication. 

One Kh-47 hypersonic missile was intercepted over Kyiv by the Patriot system shortly after its deployment on May 4, 2023, as confirmed by the spokesman of the US Department of Defense. 

Warhead of a Kinzhal missile in Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise (Credit: Kyiv City State Administration)
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