Ukraine war: Russia fires ‘hypersonic missile’ – as Putin is accused of using peace talks as ‘smokescreen’ | World News

Russia says it has unleashed its latest hypersonic missile on Ukraine for the first time since its full-scale invasion.

The weapon – known as Kinzhal, meaning dagger – destroyed an underground warehouse storing missiles and aircraft ammunition in the west of Ukraine, a Russian defence ministry official said.

Latest updates on Russia’s attack on Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned Russian forces are blockading his country’s largest cities in an attempt to wear the population into submission.

The UK Ministry of Defence said Vladimir Putin’s troops have been forced to change tactics due to the “ferocity of Ukrainian resistance” and Russia is now pursuing a “strategy of attrition”.

It is likely to involve the “indiscriminate use of firepower” and result in increased civilian casualties, the MoD added.

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Drone footage shows devastated residential buildings in Kyiv

Key developments:

• Fighting has reached the city centre in besieged Mariupol, while an estimated 1,300 people remain trapped under rubble following an airstrike on a theatre
• UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is warning Russia could be using peace talks as a “smokescreen” to allow the Kremlin to regroup troops for a fresh offensive
• Attempts will be made today to evacuate people along 10 humanitarian corridors, including one from Mariupol, Ukraine says
• The Home Office says 8,600 visas have been granted under the family scheme for Ukrainians fleeing the war
• Three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station wearing bright yellow and blue – the colours of the Ukrainian flag
• A total of 112 children have been killed during the war, according to Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine as of Saturday
The situation in Ukraine as of Saturday

Russia ‘launches hypersonic missile against Ukraine’

Russia said the hypersonic missile Kinzhal hit a warehouse in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region.

Mr Putin has previously described the missile as “an ideal weapon”.

It is said to travel at 10 times the speed of sound, with a range of 2,000km (1,200 miles), and is nuclear capable but this was a conventional strike.

The anti-ship missile system Bastion was also used to strike Ukrainian military facilities near the Black Sea port of Odesa, a Russian defence ministry spokesman said.

Russia first used the weapon during its military campaign in Syria in 2016.

Analysis by Alistair Bunkall, Sky correspondent

If Russia has fired a hypersonic missile in Ukraine, and that is yet to be verified, it would be the first time such a weapon has been used in conflict.

Moscow claims a MiG-31 fighter jet launched a ‘Kinzhal’ missile to strike an underground weapons and munitions bunker in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of western Ukraine. Ukraine is yet to confirm the strike.

The Kinzhal, meaning ‘dagger’ in Russian, was unveiled by President Putin in 2018. It is nuclear-capable and has a range of 1,500km – 2,000km.

But what makes the missile so deadly is its speed – it can fly at 10 times the speed of sound (Mach 10), that’s around 12,500 km/h.

It’s flight path is also erratic meaning that no current missile defence system can reliably track and intercept it at that speed.

Having repeatedly tested it in southern Russia, surrounded by much publicity, I’m not surprised the Kremlin looked for an opportunity to use it for real in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s air defences are holding up, but have largely failed to fully stop long-range precision strikes – I therefore wonder whether the Kinzhal was used last night, in part, to send a message to NATO?

Zelenskyy calls for meaningful peace talks

In a video address, Mr Zelenskyy accused the Kremlin of deliberately creating “a humanitarian catastrophe ” and appealed for Mr Putin to meet him.

The Ukrainian president referred to the huge Moscow stadium rally where Mr Putin lavished praise on Russian forces on Friday, saying: “Just picture for yourself that in that stadium in Moscow there are 14,000 dead bodies and tens of thousands more injured and maimed.

“Those are the Russian costs throughout the invasion.”

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‘It will take you generations to recover’

Mr Zelenskyy called for meaningful peace talks and said this was Russia’s only chance to limit the damage from its mistakes in the wake of the invasion.

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow,” he said.

“The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk.

“The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.”

Read more: Man walks away from rubble-strewn tomb after missile attack

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Rescue from collapsed building in Kharkiv

Ukraine plans to open 10 evacuation routes today

Attempts will be made to open humanitarian corridors from towns and cities on the front lines of the war today, according to Ukraine.

Deputy prime minister Iryna Vereshchuk said it is hoped 10 evacuation routes will be active, but it is unclear whether these have been agreed.

However, she did confirm a route has been agreed from the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, which has faced relentless bombardment from Russian forces for weeks.

Satellite images on Friday from Maxar Technologies showed a long line of cars leaving Mariupol as people tried to evacuate.

Mr Zelenskyy said more than 9,000 people were able to leave the city in the past day.

Russian cosmonauts Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveyev during a welcome ceremony after arriving at the International Space Station, on Friday, wearing yellow flight suits in the colours of the Ukrainian flag
Russian cosmonauts Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveyev during a welcome ceremony after arriving at the International Space Station, on Friday, wearing yellow flight suits in the colours of the Ukrainian flag

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Russia ‘pursuing strategy of attrition’

In its latest update on the situation in Ukraine, the MoD said: “The Kremlin has so far failed to achieve its original objectives. It has been surprised by the scale and ferocity of Ukrainian Resistance.

“Russia has been forced to change its operational approach and is now pursuing a strategy of attrition.

“This is likely to involve the indiscriminate use of firepower resulting in increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure, and intensify the humanitarian crisis.

“Putin has reinforced his control over Russian domestic media. The Kremlin is attempting to control the narrative, detract from operational problems and obscure high Russian casualty numbers from the Russian people.”

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