Russia Used a New Hypersonic Missile, Ukraine Says

By John Mercury February 14, 2024

Ukraine said it had evidence that Russia had used a new hypersonic cruise missile for the first time in an attack last week, a development that might, if confirmed, pose another challenge to the country’s already strained air defenses.

A preliminary analysis of missile fragments by the government-run Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise concluded that a 3M22 Zircon missile had been used in a Feb. 7 attack that targeted cities across Ukraine. Markings typical of the missile were found on the debris, the institute said.

“We see elements that are characteristic to the 3M22 Zircon missile. Parts and fragments of the engine and steering mechanisms have specific markings,” Oleksandr Ruvin, the head of the institute, said in a social media post on Monday afternoon that included a video of the missile’s wreckage.

The Russian authorities have not commented on the use of a Zircon missile and the evidence presented by the institute could not be independently verified. American officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they were assessing the claim but could not confirm its use in combat on Feb. 7.

Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow and expert on sea power at the Royal United Services Institute, or RUSI, expressed caution, saying that none of the warships from which the missile had previously been tested were operating in the Black Sea at the time of the attack, meaning that the debris might belong to another type of missile.

The use of a Zircon would be a new step in Russia’s air campaign against Ukrainian military and civilian infrastructure.


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