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Ukraine’s air defenders claim two major firsts, but missiles evading interception kill 7

Kyiv, Ukraine CNN —
Ukraine’s air defenders say they notched up two significant firsts on Friday morning, taking down a Russian Tu22M3 strategic bomber and hitting two Kh-22 hypersonic cruise missiles in flight.
News of the groundbreaking midair interceptions will come as a boost to Ukraine’s military, which has struggled to keep up with Russia’s increased use of combined missile and drone attacks in recent months – a fact highlighted by reports from Dnipropetrovsk region where officials said seven people had been killed, including two children, in the latest Russian salvo.
Ukraine’s air force said six Kh-22 missiles were launched overnight from Russian bombers flying over the Black Sea and the nearby Sea of Azov – out of a total of 22 missiles and 14 Shahed drones fired overall. A military source told CNN a Patriot air defense system had been responsible for the two successful Kh-22 interceptions.
The missiles, originally designed to target ships, can fly at speeds of up to 2,485 mph (4,000 kph), making them particularly difficult to intercept. Russia has fired hundreds of them at Ukrainian targets since the start of the full-scale invasion two years ago, according to air force information – all of which had evaded air defense until now.
The US-designed Patriot system is a priority for Ukraine, which is thought to have only three such units, with a fourth recently promised by Germany. President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to press the case for more such systems when he addresses NATO defense ministers at a virtual meeting later Friday.
Russian strategic bomber downed, Ukraine says
By contrast to the Kh-22 interceptions, the Tu22M3 bomber was taken down by an S-200 air defense system dating from the Soviet era, the Ukrainian military source told CNN.
The strategic bomber was struck after it had launched missiles at Ukrainian targets and was hit at a distance of about 186 miles (300 km) from Ukraine, according to a statement from Defense Intelligence in Kyiv.
The plane fell over Russia’s Stavropol area, the statement said, which lies to the east of the Black Sea. The statement described it as “the first successful destruction of a strategic bomber in the air during a combat mission since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said the crash was the result of a “technical malfunction,” according to the Tass news agency. It said three of those on board the plane had been rescued while a fourth crew member was unaccounted for.
Kyiv has had other successes against larger Russian military planes recently, most notably taking down two A-50 reconnaissance planes in separate strikes in January and February over the same Black Sea area.
Ukrainian rescuers work in the courtyard of a damaged residential building in Dnipro, April 19, 2024. Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images
Fatalities in Dnipropetrovsk region
As well as the six Kh-22 missiles fired overnight, Russia fired 16 other missiles at Ukraine, including two Iskander K cruise missiles, in addition to 14 Shahed drones. The air force said all but seven of the air attack weapons were intercepted.
The main targets were in Dnipropetrovsk region, in the country’s southeast, where officials said seven people were killed.
Two of the dead were children, aged 14 and eight, a regional official said. They were killed in the town of Synelnykove, where more than a dozen private houses had been struck, according to official information.

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