Dozens Of Interceptors Fired As Kyiv Faced Most Complex Barrage Yet

In an air defense response that lit up the night sky over Kyiv, Ukrainian officials say they downed all 18 missiles fired, including six Kh-47 Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, nine Kalibr sea-launched cruise missiles and three ground-launched missiles, as well as several drones. The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) meanwhile claimed that a Kinzhal struck one of two U.S.-made MIM-104 Patriot missile systems in the latest attack against that air defense system.

“The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation launched a combined attack with long-range precision-guided air- and sea-based weapons against the AFU units, as well as depots of ammunition, weapons, and military equipment supplied by Western countries,” the Russian MoD claimed on its Telegram channel. “The goal of the attack has been reached. All the assigned targets have been neutralized. U.S.-manufactured Patriot surface-to-air missile system has been struck by Kinzhal hypersonic glide vehicle in Kyiv.”

It’s worth noting that Kinzhal is not a hypersonic glide vehicle at all, it’s an air-launched variant of the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile with hypersonic endgame performance. Hypersonic glide vehicles are an entirely different category of weapon. Whether this was simply wrong information or an anomaly of the translation is unclear.

In an apparent response to the Russian claim that drips with snark, but offers no direct denial, the Ukrainian MoD Tweeted out that the Russian MoD’s “press service is more powerful than most countries’ armies. Russia doesn’t even need an army to conquer the entire world; its state media and MoD spokesperson konashenkov [sic] are more than adequate.”

Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, said Russia’s claims were “pure propaganda and pure lies,” according to the Financial Times newspaper.

The Russian claim comes after video emerged showing dozens of what appear to be Patriot air defense interceptors launched at objects over Kyiv.

There were also unsubstantiated claims that a flash of light near where the SAMs originated as observed in the video was the result of a strike or possibly an interceptor malfunction, but we just don’t know at this point exactly what happened.

Images also emerged on social media claiming to show remnants of a Patriot PAC-3 CRI interceptor.

And an image emerged claiming to show the wreckage of one of the Kinzhals.

The War Zone is unable to independently verify either image, although the Patriot PAC-3 CRI does look very much like the missile shown.

The Ukrainian Air Force did not immediately comment on Russia’s claim about the Patriot being hit, but said that around 3:30 A.M. on May 16, 2023, “the Russian invaders attacked Ukraine from the north, south, and east with 18 missiles of various types, air, sea, and land-based.”

That attack included “six Kh-47M2 ‘Kinzhal aeroballistic missiles” launched from six MiG-31K Foxhound heavy interceptors, nine Kalibr cruise missiles launched from ships in the Black Sea, and three land-based missiles including the S-400 air defense missile and the Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile.

 “All missiles were destroyed by the forces and means of air defense of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the Ukrainian Air Force reported on its Telegram channel Tuesday.

“In addition, on the night of May 16, the enemy attacked with attack drones of the Shahed-136/131 type, and also conducted aerial reconnaissance with three operational-tactical drones – ‘Orlan-10,’ ‘SuperCam.’ All – destroyed!”

We reached out to the Ukrainian Air Force, its spokesman as well as the Pentagon for responses. We will update this story with any information provided.

Last night’s barrage follows one last week in which Ukraine claims to have downed a Kinzhal with a Patriot interceptor. You can read more about that here.

Last night’s barrage was the “eighth air attack on Kyiv since the beginning of May!” Serhii Popko, head of the Kyiv City Military Administration, also known by its Ukrainian acronym, KMVA, wrote on the organization’s Telegram channel Tuesday. “This time, the enemy launched a complex attack from different directions simultaneously, using UAVs, cruise missiles and probably ballistic missiles. It was exceptional in its density – the maximum number of attacking missiles in the shortest period of time.”

KMVA said that according to preliminary information, “the vast majority of enemy targets in the airspace of Kyiv were detected and destroyed! Data on the number and type of missiles will soon be reported by the Air Force.”

“Previously, the fall of debris was recorded in Solomyansky, Shevchenkivskyi, Svyatoshynskyi, Obolonskyi and Darnytskyi districts of the capital. The biggest damage was in the Solomyansk district – there was a fire in a non-residential building and several units of automobile equipment.” 

The fire has been extinguished, KMVA reported. 

“In the rest of the districts, the damage is not significant – in most of them it was found that debris fell on parked cars, the adjacent territory or the forest park zone. At the moment, there is no information about the victims! Operational summary data is collected and refined. We thank our Air Defense Forces for saving the lives of Kyivans!”

Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko gave a rolling update on his Telegram channel.

  • Explosions in Kyiv. A few – in the Solomyan district. And in Shevchenkivskyi, on the territory of the zoo, rocket debris fell. All services go to places. Details later. The air alert continues, stay in shelters!
  • Several cars caught fire in the Solomyansk district as a result of falling rocket debris. The damaged building with an area of 200 square meters. Rescuers are working on the spot. The victims have not been identified so far.
  • In the Darnytskyi district of the capital, two cars were damaged as a result of falling rocket fragments. There was no information about the victims. While the alarm continues, stay in shelters!
  • In the forest park zone in the Darnytskyi district of the capital, the wreckage of the UAV fell, without catching fire.
  • According to preliminary information, there were three victims in the Solomyan district. There were no casualties in Obolonskyi, where the debris fell.

“Tonight, as a result of the shelling of Kyiv by Russian barbarians, fragments of a rocket fell on the territory of the capital’s zoo,” Klitschko wrote. “Fortunately, none of the animals or workers were injured. There was no fire.”

“The rocket fragment damaged the greenery, but all the broken branches have already been removed,” he wrote. “Anti-stress measures are now being conducted with the animals. And today, as usual, at 10 a.m. the zoo will open for visitors. So come to calm down and support the residents of KyivZoo!”

As we predicted in December, the U.S.’s consideration of allowing Patriots to be sent to Ukraine would make those systems prime targets.

Russia, which promised to attack the Patriot batteries even before they arrived, has targeted them again. Whether the Russian MoD is making another specious claim – as in its repeated lies about destroying U.S.-donated M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS – remains to be seen.

The Ukrainian MoD already addressed the HIMARS issue in a video taunting Russian soldiers.

We are waiting to see if they do something similar here.

This is a developing story.

Stay with The War Zone for updates and we may be posting a deeper analysis piece on this mass attack, as well.

Update 1:25 P.M. EST

A Patriot system was likely damaged but not destroyed in the Russian missile barrage, CNN is reporting, citing a “U.S. official.”

We are working to independently confirm that.

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Howard Altman Avatar

Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.