Ukraine said its air defenses shot down a ballistic missile over Kyiv on Friday, a rare midmorning assault on the Ukrainian capital as Russia stepped up its assaults on towns and cities across the country.
The Ukrainian Air Force said that three other ballistic missiles, known as Kinzhals, were aimed at military airfields in the western part of the country. Kinzhals are one of the most sophisticated conventional weapons in Russia’s arsenal.
“During the past and this week, the enemy intensified the use of virtually the full spectrum of its weapons to strike Ukrainian cities,” the Ukrainian military said in a statement. “In particular, he increased the number of attacks by sea-, air- and land-based cruise and ballistic missiles.”
One Russian missile crashed into the home of an 8-year-old boy in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine, officials said.
“Doctors did everything possible, but, unfortunately, the child’s life could not be saved,” said Svitlana Onyshchuk, the head of the regional military administration.
The Ukrainian Air Force had warned just before 10 a.m. local time that at least one Kinzhal hypersonic missile had been fired from a MIG-31 fighter jet, directed at the capital. Nearly as soon as the air-raid alarm sounded, the white trail of an air defense missile could be seen streaking through the sky.
Hypersonic weapons can travel at least five times the speed of sound — more than a mile a second — and maneuver to evade defenses. U.S. officials have said the Kinzhal meets the definition, though some Western analysts have expressed doubts about its maneuverability.
Debris from a downed missile fell around a children’s hospital, according to Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv regional military administration. He said in a statement that there was no immediate information about victims or destruction. The details could not immediately be independently verified.
The morning assault on the capital — with air-raid alarms blaring as people headed to work on a sunny summer day only to dash into train stations and basement shelters for cover — came after a brief period of relative calm in Kyiv, as Russian forces have been directing their most expensive missiles at other areas that are less well-defended.
Ukraine’s complex air-defense network has become increasingly adept at intercepting Russian missile and drone attacks. But even successful interceptions pose a danger: Falling debris has killed several people and caused extensive damage.