- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 20, 2022

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin downplayed reports that Russia has deployed hypersonic missiles in its campaign against Ukraine, telling CBS News he doesn’t see such a move as a “game-changer” for the stalled invasion.

The BBC reported that Moscow on Saturday launched a Kinzhal (Dagger) missile at an underground arms depot in western Ukraine. If the shooting is confirmed, it would amount to the first use of a hypersonic missile — capable of flying at five times the speed of sound — during a combat mission.

On Sunday’s “Face the Nation,” Mr. Austin said if the hypersonic missile story turns out to be true, it’s an indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to reestablish some momentum. Is he running low on precision-guided munitions? Does he lack complete confidence in the ability of his troops to reestablish momentum?”

The Kinzhal missile was heralded at its unveiling four years ago as one in a series of “invincible” weapons that would help Russia evade enemy defenses. It can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads. Citing recent reports, the BBC said Russian MiG-31 fighters, capable of carrying the Kinzhal missile, have been sent to Kaliningrad, bringing “numerous” European capitals within reach.

According to the BBC, there is no indication where the Russian hypersonic missile was launched from.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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