Russia is expending more munitions than usual in an attempt to overwhelm and confuse Ukrainian air defenses, according to a US official familiar with the matter.
Moscow's forces launched larger aerial attacks from several directions at once, the official said, targeting command and control centers in Kyiv and other high-value locations.
Russia may have begun the expanded attacks in an attempt to force Ukraine to delay its highly-anticipated counteroffensive, the official said. But Ukraine has been able to withstand the attacks, intercepting a high percentage of the incoming missiles and drones with the layered air defenses provided by Western nations.
The expanded attacks may even work to Ukraine’s advantage, the official said, as Russia dips deeper into its limited supply of precision munitions.
On Tuesday, Russia unleashed a barrage with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles launched from fighter jets, Kalibr cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea, and land-based Iskander missiles, the head of Ukraine’s military said. The attack came from the north, south and east. The attack likely damaged — but did not destroy — a Patriot system, another official told CNN, as the US assesses the extent of the damage.
Earlier this month, Ukraine used its newly-delivered Patriot missiles to intercept a hypersonic Kinzhal missile, marking the first time the US-made missile interdicted a weapon Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed was impossible to stop.
Last week, Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky said Ukraine needs “a bit more time” before it begins its counteroffensive.