Zelensky welcomed with military honours as he visits Germany
The wave of Russian missile strikes fired all at once on Tuesday morning has likely caused damage to the US-made Patriot missile defence system being used by Ukraine, two US officials said.
The Patriot is one of the most advanced air defence systems in the world, designed to work against a mix of aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
The system has not been destroyed and Washington and Kyiv are in talks about the best way to repair it without removing it from Ukraine, one of the officials said on the condition of anonymity.
Just hours earlier, Russia said it had destroyed the US-built surface-to-air missile defence system with a “hypersonic” Kinzhal missile.
Vladimir Putin had issued a clear threat to damage and “weed out” the West-supplied Patriot anti-missile defence systems delivered to Ukraine.
On the battlefield front, Ukrainian forces have taken back about 20 square km of territory from Russia around the eastern city of Bakhmut in recent days, Kyiv said.
Patriot missile defence system likely damaged but not destroyed – reports
The wave of Russian strikes has likely caused damage to the US-made Patriot missile defence system being used by Ukraine, two US officials said on Tuesday, adding that it did not appear to have been destroyed.
Washington and Kyiv were already talking about the best way to repair the system and at this point it did not appear the system would have to be removed from Ukraine, one of the officials said on the condition of anonymity.
The official added that the US would have a better understanding in the coming days and information could change over time.
This comes just hours after Russia’s defence ministry said it had destroyed a US-built Patriot surface-to-air missile defence system with a “hypersonic” Kinzhal missile in an overnight strike on Ukraine but did not share more details.
Vladimir Putin had issued a clear threat to damage and “weed out” the West-supplied Patriot anti-missile defence system to Ukraine.
Ukraine shot down 18 Russian missiles overnight, including an entire volley of six Kinzhals. It was not clear which Western weapon Ukraine used.
When asked about the Ukrainian claim, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu dismissed it. The Pentagon had no immediate comment.
The Patriot is one of the most advanced US air defence systems, designed to work against a mix of aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. It typically includes launchers along with radar and other support vehicles.
Arpan Rai17 May 2023 03:53
UN scrambles to secure grain deal extension
The United Nations is speedily trying to extend a deal that has allowed shipments of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea to parts of the world struggling with hunger – helping ease a global food crisis exacerbated by the war Russia launched more than a year ago.
The breakthrough accord that the UN and Turkey brokered with the warring sides last summer came with a separate agreement to ease shipments of Russian food and fertiliser that Moscow insists has not been applied.
Russia set a deadline of Thursday for its concerns to be ironed out or it is bowing out.
Such brinkmanship is not new; with a similar extension in the balance in March, Russia unilaterally decided to renew the deal for 60 days instead of the 120 days outlined in the agreement.
UN officials and analysts said a failure to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative could hurt countries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia that rely on Ukrainian wheat, barley, vegetable oil and other affordable food products, especially as drought takes a toll.
The deal helped lower prices of food commodities like wheat over the last year but that relief has not reached kitchen tables.
“If you have a cancellation of the grain deal again, when we’re already at a pretty tight situation, it’s just one more thing that the world doesn’t need, so the prices could start heading higher,” said William Osnato, a senior research analyst at agriculture data and analytics firm Gro Intelligence.
“You don’t see relief on the horizon.”
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Monday the deal is “critical” and talks were ongoing.
Matt Mathers17 May 2023 08:37
Can Ukraine use Patriot defense systems to knock out Russian hypersonic missiles?
Ukraine said on Tuesday that it downed six Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missiles in a single night, in what would be a major setback for Moscow’s efforts to develop an unstoppable next-generation weapon.
It was not clear which air defense system Kyiv used to shoot down the missiles, but last week the US military confirmed that Ukraine had shot down a Kinzhal missile using the US.-produced Patriot system.
What is the Patriot missile system?
The Patriot, which stands for Phased Array Tracking Radar for Intercept on Target, is a theater-wide surface-to-air missile defense system built by Raytheon Technologies Corp and considered one of the most advanced air defense systems in the US arsenal.
The system was first used in combat during the 1991 Gulf War, with batteries protecting Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel, and later used during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Can Patriots stop hypersonic missiles?
The Patriot system was designed before hypersonic weapons were sent to battlefield and Raytheon has not said publicly that the is effective against a missile flying at hypersonic speeds (anything above five times the speed of sound). While the US said that the Patriot system brought down last week’s Khinzal missile, it was not clear if that missile was traveling at hypersonic speed at the time.
While Russia’s Kinzhal missile may reach speeds of up to 7,600 mph (12,350 kph), “Russia’s designation of the Kinzhal as a ‘hypersonic’ missile is somewhat misleading, as nearly all ballistic missiles reach hypersonic speeds (i.e. above Mach 5) at some point during their flight,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a March 2022 report.
Matt Mathers17 May 2023 08:11
‘Vulnerability’ of Russia’s Killyjoy missiles an ‘embarrassment’ for Kremlin
The apparent vulnerability of Russia’s Killjoy missiles is likely an “embarrassment” for the Kremlin, Britain’s Ministry of Defence has said.
Ukraine for the first time shot down a Killyjoy air-launched ballistic missile on 3 May.
“The increased air threat over Russia’s border region will be of exceptional concern for the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) because it uses the area to launch air power in support of the war,” the MoD said in its latest daily updates.
“The apparent vulnerability of KILLJOY is likely a surprise and an embarrassment for Russia: Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted the system as undefeatable.”
Matt Mathers17 May 2023 07:46
China asks foreign missions displaying Ukraine flags to remove ‘propaganda’
China has notified several foreign missions in Beijing not to display “politicised propaganda” on their buildings, diplomats told Reuters, adding the request appeared aimed at Ukrainian flags they have displayed since Russia’s invasion.
Several foreign missions in China raised the Ukrainian flag, or displayed its image in posters and lights, following the February 2022 invasion that sparked international condemnation of Russia, a close ally of China.
“We and others got a letter calling on embassies and representative offices to refrain from using the outer walls of their buildings for ‘politicised propaganda’,” one diplomat, whose embassy is displaying a Ukraine flag image, told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The diplomat said the mission did not intend to comply with the notification.
Matt Mathers17 May 2023 07:20
Last ship leaves Ukraine today as Black Sea grain deal remains in Putin’s control
The last ship carrying out the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain will leave port today, a UN spokesperson said, a day before Russia could quit the pact over obstacles to its grain and fertiliser exports.
The last remaining ship at a Ukrainian port and will transit the maritime corridor with its cargo, the spokesperson said.
Another vessel was in transit back to Turkey on Tuesday and five other ships are waiting for an outbound inspection in Turkish waters, the official said.
The deal, which has ramifications for grain consumption across the world, was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey for an initial 120 days in July last year to help tackle a global food crisis that has been aggravated by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, one of the world’s leading grain exporters.
Moscow agreed to extend the Black Sea pact for a further 120 days in November, but then in March it offered only a 60 day extension, until 18 May, unless a list of demands regarding its own agricultural exports was met.
Arpan Rai17 May 2023 06:57
South Korea signs $130m aid package for Ukraine
South Korea will provide a $130m (£104m) financial aid package to Kyiv after Ukraine’s first lady visited Seoul to seek military assistance.
South Korea’s finance ministry said minister Choo Kyung-ho and Ukrainian economy minister Yulia Svyrydenko, in Seoul to attend a conference, signed the agreement on the package, which will consist of donations and aid loans.
South Korea, a major producer of artillery shells, has said it was not providing lethal weapons to Ukraine, citing its relations with Russia.
But South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol said in an interview with Reuters last month his government might not “insist only on humanitarian or financial support” if civilians in Ukraine come under a large-scale attack or because of a “situation the international community cannot condone”.
Arpan Rai17 May 2023 06:13
Russia firing more weapons to overwhelm Ukraine, says US official
Russian forces are expending more weapons than usual in order to overwhelm and confuse Ukrainian air defences, a US official familiar with the matter told CNN.
The expanded attacks seen this week may even work to Ukraine’s advantage, the official said, as the move forced Russia to scrape deeper into its restricted supply of precision munitions.
Moscow has tried to target command and control centres in Kyiv and other high-value locations, the official said, as seen yesterday when Russia launched larger aerial attacks comprising drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles overnight from north, south and east direction in one go.
Arpan Rai17 May 2023 05:35
Zelensky rallies support at EU council meet, cites battlefield success
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky bolstered his bid to seek more support for Ukraine as he spoke at the fourth summit of the Council of Europe and said that the war-hit nation is able to achieve battlefield successes unimaginable last year.
“A year ago, we were not able to shoot down most of the terrorists’s missiles, especially ballistic ones. And I am asking one thing now: if we’re able to do this, is there anything we can’t do when we’re united and determined to protect lives? The answer is that we, in unity, will give one hundred per cent in any field – when we have a goal to protect our people and our Europe,” Mr Zelensky said.
He presented Ukraine’s “historic” feat of downing cruise and ballistic missiles as he addressed the leaders virtually at the summit.
“Today, Ukraine went through a difficult challenge – an intense Russian missile attack. Such challenges are what we all have to pay attention to now,” he said.
“At three o’clock in the morning, our people woke up to explosions… Eighteen Russian missiles of different types were in our sky – in particular, ballistic ones, which the terrorist state has boasted about. We were told such missiles would bring a guaranteed death, because they are supposedly impossible to shoot down,” Mr Zelensky said.
The war-time president said Russia used ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as drones, all at the same time – “to make it especially difficult for our air defence to save lives. But all lives were protected – all missiles were shot down, including ballistic ones. One hundred per cent! This is a historical result,” he said.
Arpan Rai17 May 2023 04:42
Russia rejects Kyiv’s claims on missiles downed
Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu has said the number of claimed Ukrainian missile intercepts in general is “three times greater than the number we [Moscow] launch”.
“And they get the type of missiles wrong all the time. That’s why they don’t hit them,” he said, without elaborating.
Ukraine said it had shot down six Russian Kinzhal missiles in a single night, taking down a weapon Moscow has branded as a next-generation hypersonic missile that was all but unstoppable.
Arpan Rai17 May 2023 04:25