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Ukraine war

Russia says it used hypersonic missiles to strike Ukraine arms depot

Weapon reportedly deployed for 1st time since troops entered country

A Kinzhal hypersonic missile loaded on a Russian MiG-31 fighter jet: Russia's Defense Ministry said on March 19 that it had used the missile for the first time in Ukraine to hit an arms depot.   © Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) -- Russia said on Saturday that 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.

The office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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 Odesa 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.

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