Russia used hypersonic Zircon missile in Ukraine for first time: Report

Russia’s military struck Kyiv with a hypersonic “Zircon” missile for the first time in its war against Ukraine last week, according to a Ukrainian-based research institute.

A preliminary analysis conducted by the Kyiv Scientific Research Institute for Forensic Examinations (KNDISE) found that the markings of fragments left over from a Russian air raid on Kyiv on February 7 matched with the 3M22 Zircon missile. The director of the institute, Oleksandr Ruvin, posted about the KNDISE’s early findings on his Telegram channel Monday, adding that the missile in question “was aimed at an area where there are no military facilities, civilian infrastructure and civilians were affected.”

According to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, the Zircon missile is an anti-ship hypersonic cruise missile with a range between 500 kilometers (310 miles) and 750 kilometers (466 miles). Russian sources have claimed, however, that the weapon can reach up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and can travel nine times the speed of sound. The weapon was originally designed to be launched from the sea but a ground-launched version was later developed, reported Reuters.

People gather near a high-rise building damaged by missile debris in a residential area of the city on February 7, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russia may have used a hypersonic Zircon missile in its attack…

Kostiantyn Liberov/Libkos/Getty Images

Moscow announced in June 2022 that it completed its testing of the Zircon missile. At the time, it said that the cruise missile would be deployed to its Northern Fleet by the end of 2022, Reuters reported. Ruvin said in his post to Telegram that the markings on the missile fragments that were analyzed indicate that the weapon was built recently.

If KNDISE’s analysis is confirmed, the use of Zircon missiles could pose another threat to Ukraine’s air defense systems and challenge Western capabilities. Russian President Vladimir Putin previously called the Zircon missile “unmatched.”

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

Mykhailo Shamanov, a spokesperson for the Kyiv City Military Administration, said that it was too early to “draw conclusions” from KNDISE’s report, according to Ukrinform, adding that people should “wait for the experts’ conclusions.” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat added that Kyiv’s military was “conducting an examination” and that “experts are verifying the wreckage.”

Ruvin noted in his post on Monday that the “significant fragmentation of the missile makes identification difficult, but we can already say that the weapon does not meet the tactical and technical characteristics declared by” Russia.

Russia has repeatedly targeted Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure in air raids throughout the nearly two-year war. Ukrainian officials said that at least five people were killed in the February 7 attack on Kyiv.

Western allies, including the United States, have continuously worked to bolster Ukraine’s air defense in light of Russia’s aggression. But according to a report from CNN last week, which cited data from Ukraine’s Air Force, Kyiv’s defenses intercepted only two-thirds of the missiles and drones fired by Russia on the February 7 attack, which also struck the cities in the Lviv, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions.