Russia repeatedly fired hypersonic missiles at Ukraine, top Nato commander says

Intelligence gap early on may have caused an overestimation of Russian military capabilities

Gen Tod Wolters, US European Command and Nato's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, speaks before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington. Getty Images / AFP
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Russia has repeatedly fired hypersonic missiles at Ukrainian targets, a top US general said on Tuesday.

Gen Wolters, who heads the US military's European Command and serves as Nato's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said firing the impossible-to-stop missiles is designed to “put fear into the hearts of Ukrainians".

“Most of those strikes have been designated at specific military targets,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Moscow revealed on March 19 it had used hypersonic Kinzhal missiles to destroy a large weapons depot in Ukraine's western Ivano-Frankivsk region, among other targets, making Russia the first nation to offensively deploy such missiles.

The general restated the Pentagon’s claim that 70 to 75 per cent of Russia’s total combat forces have been “devoted” to the Ukrainian invasion but that the force has been repeatedly “challenged” by the Ukrainian resistance.

But the top US commander in Europe pointed to a possible intelligence failure by Washington in overestimating Russia’s military capability in Ukraine.

“As we’ve always done in the past, when this crisis is over with, we will accomplish a comprehensive after-action review in all domains and in all departments and find out where our weak areas were and make sure we can find ways to improve, and this could be one of those areas,” he said.

He also denied reports that the US is training Ukrainian forces in Poland.

“There are liaisons that are there and they're being given advice — that’s different than I think you're referring to with respect to training,” he said.

However Gen Wolters predicted a continuation of US materiel and intelligence support to Ukraine.

“We have made dramatic improvements in our information and sharing and intelligence sharing and as they continue to prosecute their campaign, our advice and our assistance with respect to materiel will be very important,” he said.

Updated: March 29, 2022, 7:20 PM