The Russian military on Friday used the hypersonic Kinzhal air-to-ground missile for the first time in combat, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense.
Russia’s armed forces used the nuclear-capable aero-ballistic missile during an airstrike in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, according to Russian military spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov.
“On March 18, Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic ballistic missiles destroyed a large underground storage facility for missiles and aviation ammunition of Ukrainian troops in Delyatin, Ivano-Frankovsk region,” Konashenkov said during a Saturday morning news briefing on Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Konashenkov further claimed that since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian armed forces have destroyed “196 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles, 1,438 tanks, and other armored combat vehicles.”
Russian forces also destroyed “145 multiple launch rocket systems, 556 field artillery, and mortars, as well as 1,237 units of special military vehicles,” Konashenkov said.
The Western Journal cannot independently confirm the Russian military’s assertions.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project, Kinzhal or “Dagger” is one of Russia’s six “next generation” munitions Russia’s President Vladimir Putin introduced during a 2018 speech.
CSIS noted that the missile possesses an asserted range of 932 to 1,242 miles when carrying a nuclear or conventional warhead weighing approximately 1,058 pounds.
The institute added that, according to Russian state media reports, if Russian armed forces fit the missile on the Tupolev TU-22 M3 bomber, it can attain a range of over 1,864 miles.
After launch, the Kinzhal can quickly accelerate to a speed of Mach 4, or about 3,069 miles per hour. CSIS reported that it can reach speeds up to Mach 10 or approximately 7,673 miles per hour.
Because of such high speeds, the missile’s unpredictable fight trajectory, and high maneuverability, interception would be extremely hard, if not impossible.
According to CSIS, the missile was reportedly first tested in airfields in southern Russia. Russia’s use of the weapon in Ukraine is its first combat deployment — at least, its first announced use in combat.
Saturday marked day 23 in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russia has refused to recognize its invasion as war and continues to call it a “special military operation” intended to “denazify” and “demilitarize” its western neighbor.
Russian troops continued to brutally strike civilians alongside military targets in its assault on the country. This is despite an order from the International Court of Justice at the Hague demanding that Russia “immediately suspend” its war on Ukraine.
Novi Petrivtsi. Mother mourns her 2-year-old child killed by #Russia. Never forgive. #RussiaInvadedUkraine #StandWithUkraine️ #PutinWarCriminal #putinhitler #BanRussiafromSwift #PutinsSponsors pic.twitter.com/jsLayl1ZbS
— olexander scherba🇺🇦 (@olex_scherba) March 18, 2022
Dutch investigative journalism group Bellingcat has documented a series of such attacks on civilians between March 3 and 17 in its Time Map.
Russia has also used cluster munitions, banned under the Geneva Conventions, in civilian areas, according to Bellingcat, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.
The Geneva Conventions are four treaties and three additional protocols that lay down international legal standards for how states should conduct themselves in armed conflict.
Among the people Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine are several United States citizens. Russian soldiers most recently killed US citizen Jim Hill of Idaho, who had gone to Chernihiv, Ukraine, in December for his girlfriend Irina’s medical treatment, according to KIFI-TV.
Cheryl Gordon, Hill’s sister, told the outlet that Russian snipers shot him down when he was waiting for food at a bread line in Chernihiv alongside other Ukrainian civilians.
“We are not seeking direct confrontation with Russia, though I have been clear that if Russia targets Americans in Ukraine, we will respond forcefully,” US President Joe Biden said during a White House press briefing in February. Russian soldiers have already killed at least two American citizens in Ukraine.
According to data verified by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and published by Statista, Russia’s military attack as of Thursday has caused 1,333 confirmed injuries, 74 of which were children. Eight hundred and sixteen people have died, the data shows, 59 of which were children.
The OHCHR said that the figures are only those verified and that actual figures can be higher than the confirmed count.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine has also given rise to a growing refugee crisis in Europe.
According to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Russia has displaced over 3,328,692 Ukrainians who have fled to neighboring countries en masse because of its war on Ukraine.
Most of these numbers constitute women, children, and the elderly, as Ukraine forbids men aged 18-60 from leaving the country, requiring them to stay and fight against the Russian invaders.
The numbers continue to rise every day as Russia’s war on the country drags on.