Russia claimed Saturday, March 19, that it had used Kinzhal (Dagger) hypersonic missiles to destroy a large weapons depot, but while the United States could not confirm it, the action may have been intended to send a message, a Biden administration DoD official said.
The Russian Defense Department showed on Twitter a video of the apparent moment of impact and destruction of a Ukrainian subway storage facility on Friday in the village of Deliatyn, Ivano-Frankivsk region, in the west of the country.
The attack, which reportedly took place on Friday, was reconfirmed a day later by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
But according to Reuters, a senior U.S. DoD official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it made no sense to use hypersonic missiles to carry out such an attack on a building, and suggested that it might have had other intentions.
“It’s a bit of a head-scratcher, to be honest with you, because it’s not exactly clear why—if it’s true—why would you need a hypersonic missile fired from not that far away to hit a building.”
The official mentioned that Russia may have used this as a strategy to better position itself in negotiations, or to counter the U.S. view that it presents limitations in the supply of precision-guided munitions.
“They’re failing to launch or they’re failing to hit the targets or they’re failing to explode on contact,” the official said.
As he also indicated, the Russian offensive is stalled, so resorting to long-range missile strikes may be aimed at “gaining some momentum” and thus “trying to change the course of the war.”
Kinzhal hypersonic missiles are weapons designed to fly at speeds in excess of five times the speed of sound, that is approximately 6100 km per hour. Because of the speed and the ability to change direction towards its target, it makes it very difficult to track and shoot it down.
On Monday, March 21, Russia announced another new attack using a hypersonic missile to destroy against a fuel depot in Kostyantynivka in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine.
Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ignat confirmed the attack of a storage site, but added that Kiev had no information on the type of missile that was used, Daily Mail reported.