Ukraine Says It Shot Down Most of a Russian Missile and Drone Barrage - The World News

Ukraine Says It Shot Down Most of a Russian Missile and Drone Barrage

Ukraine said on Wednesday that its air defenses — drawing on stocks of anti-aircraft missiles recently replenished by its allies, including the United States — had shot down 29 of 30 missiles and exploding drones that Russia had fired at the country in an overnight barrage. It was one of the better rates of interception by Ukraine so far during the war.

And in Kyiv, the authorities said they had shot down an entire volley of missiles and exploding drones aimed at the capital as the devices approached or soared above the city. The aerial duel, between mostly Western-provided air defense systems and incoming Russian missiles, played out over the city shortly before 3 a.m.

Earlier in the year, Ukraine’s air defense ammunition had run perilously low. Commanders at some batteries said their missiles were being rationed, allowing Russian missiles to streak in unimpeded. Last week, President Volodymyr Zelensky told a gathering on economic assistance for Ukraine that his country’s forces needed additional U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems.

The Biden administration has decided to give Ukraine one additional Patriot system, consisting of launchers, stocks of missiles and powerful radar antennas for finding targets. Other countries are also considering transferring Patriot launchers to Ukraine. Germany has organized the donation of 100 missiles from its stocks and those of Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, of which 32 have been delivered so far, Germany’s defense minister, Boris Pistorius, said this week.

As the assault played out on Wednesday, flashes lit up the skyline and explosions rang out. One civilian was wounded by falling debris, the authorities said.

“The enemy launched another missile attack on the capital,” Kyiv’s military administrator said in a post on Telegram, the social networking site. Typical of recent Russian strikes, 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 air space, were timed to arrive in Kyiv simultaneously with a volley of Iranian-designed Shahed exploding drones. In the overall attack, according to the Ukraine Air Force, Russia also fired three ballistic missiles, an Iskander medium-range, ground-launched ballistic missile and two air-launched Kinzhal, or Dagger missiles, which are dispatched from airplanes and fly at hypersonic speeds. Ukrainian and Western officials have said that Patriot interceptors are the only defense against the Dagger missiles.

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

Ukraine’s interception rate for drones and missiles had fallen in the first months of this year compared to a year earlier, as its air defense ammunition ran low and Russia adapted tactics to evade what defenses there were.

The average shoot-down rate for drones for the 12 months through April was about 80 percent, data from the Ukraine Air Force shows. The interception rate for missiles had fallen in some months this year to less than 50 percent, the data indicated.

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

In Kyiv on Wednesday, falling debris wounded the leg of one civilian, the city’s military administrator, Ruslan Kravchenko, said in another post on Telegram. Falling missile debris also started two fires.

Debris from intercepts — sometimes small, silvery shards of metal and at other times heavy rocket motors — rains down on Kyiv after such engagements, often causing injuries. The debris is from both the interceptors and the incoming Russian missiles.

In recent assaults, Russia has been targeting electrical power plants, and by this month, about half of Ukraine’s electrical generating capacity had been destroyed. The government has introduced nationwide rolling blackouts as a result.

Natalia Novosolova contributed reporting.

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