Ukraine claims to have shot down most of Russia's missiles and drones

Ukraine said on Wednesday that its air defenses – drawing on stockpiles of anti-aircraft missiles recently replenished by its allies, including the United States – shot down 29 of 30 missiles and detonated drones that Russia had launched at the country in a barrage night. It was one of Ukraine's best interception rates so far in the war.

And in Kiev, authorities said they shot down a full barrage of explosive missiles and drones aimed at the capital as the devices approached or flew over the city. The dogfight, between mainly Western-supplied air defense systems and incoming Russian missiles, took place over the city just before 3am.

At the beginning of the year, Ukrainian air defense ammunition was dangerously low. Commanders of some batteries said their missiles were being rationed, allowing Russian missiles to advance unhindered. Last week, President Volodymyr Zelensky said at a meeting on economic assistance to Ukraine that his country's forces needed additional U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems.

The Biden administration has decided to equip Ukraine with an additional Patriot system, consisting of launchers, missile stocks and powerful radar antennas for searching for targets. Other countries are also considering moving Patriot launchers to Ukraine. Germany has arranged the donation of 100 missiles from its stockpile and those of Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, of which 32 have been delivered so far, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said this week.

On Wednesday, as the assault unfolded, flashes lit up the horizon and explosions rang out. One civilian was injured by falling debris, authorities said.

“The enemy has launched another missile attack on the capital,” Kiev's military administrator said in a post on Telegram, the social networking site. Typical of recent Russian attacks, the attack combined several types of weapons, including drones and cruise missiles. The tactic is intended to overload Ukraine's air defenses.

The cruise missiles, launched from bombers flying in Russian airspace, were timed to arrive at Kiev at the same time as a barrage of Iranian-designed Shahed explosive drones. In the overall attack, according to the Ukrainian Air Force, Russia also fired three ballistic missiles, a ground-launched medium-range Iskander ballistic missile and two air-launched Kinzhal, or Dagger, missiles, which are launched from aircraft and fly at hypersonic speed. speed. Ukrainian and Western officials have said Patriot interceptors are the only defense against Dagger missiles.

Ukraine shot down five of the six missiles and all 24 Shahed drones, the air force said in a statement that could not be independently confirmed.

Ukraine's drone and missile interception rate fell in early this year compared to a year earlier, as its air defense munitions ran low and Russia adapted tactics to evade existing defenses .

The average drone kill rate for the 12 months through April was around 80%, data from the Ukrainian Air Force shows. According to the data, in some months this year the missile interception rate has fallen to less than 50%.

In neighboring Poland, the military said it scrambled planes to defend its airspace while Russian missiles were flying in Ukraine.

In Kiev, falling debris injured a civilian's leg on Wednesday, the city's military administrator, Ruslan Kravchenko, said in another Telegram post. Falling missile debris also caused two fires.

Debris from interceptions – sometimes small silvery metal fragments and other times heavy rocket engines – rains down on Kiev after such clashes, often causing injuries. The debris comes from both interceptors and incoming Russian missiles.

In recent attacks, Russia has targeted power plants, and by this month, about half of Ukraine's electricity generating capacity had been destroyed. As a result, the government introduced nationwide rolling blackouts.

Natalia Novosova contributed reporting.

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