Ukraine again denied on Wednesday that Russia destroyed a U.S. Patriot missile defense system with one of its hypersonic missiles, though U.S. officials conceded it was probably damaged.
It was a second day’s denial by Ukrainian authorities. On Tuesday morning, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, disputed Russia’s initial claims that it had destroyed the Patriot system during an overnight Monday barrage of Kinzhal hypersonic missiles—all of which Zaluzhnyi said Ukraine had shot down.
On Wednesday, Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat reiterated those claims.
“I want to say: do not worry about the fate of the Patriot,” Ihnat said on Ukrainian television.
However, a pair of U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity and citing initial information, conceded that the Patriot system likely suffered some damage but was not destroyed. They added that Washington and Kyiv were in discussions regarding the best way to fix the system, which would likely not have be removed from Ukraine to do so.
Consisting of launchers along with radar and other support vehicles, the Patriot is considered to be one of the most advanced U.S. air defense systems. It shields against aircraft, cruise missile and ballistic missile attacks.
Russia had touted its hypersonic missiles as all but unstoppable before Ukraine said it downed at least a half dozen of them overnight Monday. It was the first time Ukraine had claimed to have successfully targeted an entire volley of Kinzhal missiles.
“Once more, the world saw that Russian weapons are archaic and aren’t able to get through modern air defense systems,” Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, tweeted early Tuesday morning.
PHOTO: Patriot High Surface-to-Air Missile Battery being tested in Romania in 2009