LONDON, March 19 (Reuters) – Russia said on Saturday it had used hypersonic Kinzhal (Dagger) missiles to destroy a large weapons depot in Ukraine’s western Ivano-Frankivsk region.
Russia’s Interfax news agency said it was the first time Russia had deployed the hypersonic Kinzhal system since it sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told a briefing that the underground depot hit by the Kinzhal system on Friday housed Ukrainian missiles and aircraft ammunition, according to a recording of the briefing shared by Russian news agencies.
Reuters was not able to independently verify Konashenkov’s statements.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s air force command confirmed a Russian missile strike on Delyatyn in the Ivano-Frankivsk region on Friday, without giving further details.
Russia prides itself on its advanced weaponry, and President Vladimir Putin said in December that Russia was the global leader in hypersonic missiles, whose speed, manoeuvrability and altitude make them difficult to track and intercept.
The Kinzhal missiles are part of an array of weapons unveiled in 2018.
Konashenkov added on Saturday that Russian forces had also destroyed military radio and reconnaissance centres near the Ukrainian port city of Odessa using the Bastion coastal missile system.
Moscow refers to its actions in Ukraine as a “special operation” to weaken its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it calls dangerous nationalists.
Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and Western countries have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.
(Reporting by ReutersEditing by Kevin Liffey, Frances Kerry and Helen Popper)