Russia’s Use of Hypersonic Missiles Downplayed by Defense Sec Austin

Image source: ABC News

Underscoring that it is not a game-changer in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin downplayed on Sunday Moscow’s claims that it targeted Ukrainian sites with nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles.

Pointing out that he can’t confirm these claims as true, Austin said in CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” that Russia’s claims it strike a munitions warehouse in western Ukraine using a hypersonic missile signal the growing desperation of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his botched invasion.

Austin believes that by resorting to using these types of weapons, Putin is trying to reestablish momentum, but he refused the possibility of that move being a game-changer.

Russia expert Rebekah Koffler, however, believes that even the suggestion of launching such a weapon is significant since the missile is capable of carrying nuclear arsenals and it’s definitely a game-changer in the geopolitical realm because it is conveying a strategic message to the US and NATO that Putin is willing to escalate Russia’s force posture.

Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) intelligence officer for Russian doctrine and strategy, strongly believes that step by step, Putin is climbing the escalation ladder towards nuclear warfare.

Russia’s claimed Saturday to have used its new hypersonic Kinzhal missile, carried by a MiG-31K warplane, to destroy the arms depot in Ukraine’s western village of Deliatyn.

Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuri Ignat confirmed that Deliatyn’s arms depot was destroyed but couldn’t confirm the type of missile Russian has used in the attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled in 2018the Kinzhal missile, which is able to travel at 10 times the speed of sound with a range of roughly 1,250 miles, and called it an ideal weapon that missile defenses have extreme difficulties intercepting.

If Moscow really used this missile, it would mark a dramatic new escalation of its campaign against Ukraine.

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