What you need to know about Russia’s hypersonic missiles

MiG-31 jets carry Kinzhal missiles during a Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2018. (AFP/Getty Images)

Russia launched six hypersonic missiles in the barrage of missiles and drones it unleashed across Ukraine early Thursday, the Ukrainian military said and Russia’s defense ministry confirmed.

Moscow first fired the Kinzhal hypersonic missiles on Ukraine last March and have used them several times since. Ukrainian officials say their air defenses are unable to stop them. In January, Ukrainian officials blamed one of the missiles for the deadly strike on a residential building in Dnipro that killed at least 46 people.

President Biden confirmed for the first time Russia’s use of a hypersonic missile in its invasion of Ukraine at a Business Roundtable event on March 21. (Video: The White House)

Arms specialists and the U.S. and U.K. governments have downplayed Russia’s hypersonic abilities — and the degree to which their use on the battlefield matters.

What are these missiles? Here’s what to know.

One year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Portraits of Ukraine: Every Ukrainian’s life has changed since Russia launched its full-scale invasion one year ago — in ways both big and small. They have learned to survive and support each other under extreme circumstances, in bomb shelters and hospitals, destroyed apartment complexes and ruined marketplaces. Scroll through portraits of Ukrainians reflecting on a year of loss, resilience and fear.

Battle of attrition: Over the past year, the war has morphed from a multi-front invasion that included Kyiv in the north to a conflict of attrition largely concentrated along an expanse of territory in the east and south. Follow the 600-mile front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces and take a look at where the fighting has been concentrated.

A year of living apart: Russia’s invasion, coupled with Ukraine’s martial law preventing fighting-age men from leaving the country, has forced agonizing decisions for millions of Ukrainian families about how to balance safety, duty and love, with once-intertwined lives having become unrecognizable. Here’s what a train station full of goodbyes looked like last year.

Deepening global divides: President Biden has trumpeted the reinvigorated Western alliance forged during the war as a “global coalition,” but a closer look suggests the world is far from united on issues raised by the Ukraine war. Evidence abounds that the effort to isolate Putin has failed and that sanctions haven’t stopped Russia, thanks to its oil and gas exports.