Russia’s deadly July 8 multiple missile strike on Kyiv was the result of sophisticated planning and imaginative tactics that defeated one of the densest air defense networks in the world, and probably hit the Ohmatdyt Children’s Hospital as the Kremlin intended, a Kyiv Post review of available open source evidence found.

The Russian attack began with a “bait-and-switch” move probably intended to draw the attention of Ukrainian air defenses in one direction and give Russian planners real time information about where Ukraine’s usually mobile air defense units were located.

According to Ukrainian milbloggers and local air defense networks, about 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning, four Russian Tu-95MS (NATO-Bear) bombers began the assault with the launch of four cruise missiles towards Ukrainian air space from over the Caspian Sea.

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The salvo flew northwest. According to subsequent Ukrainian Air Force statements citing anti-missile unit reports and recovered debris, three Kh-101 cruise missiles were shot down over the Zhytomyr and Cherkassy regions, adjacent to Kyiv. It isn’t clear what happened to the fourth missile.

What is clear is that about six hours later, during which the flight paths of more Kh-101 missile could have been programmed, more TU 95 bombers reached air space over Russia’s southcentral Volgograd or Saratov regions, and launched a dozen more missiles.

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The Kh-101 is a modern, ground-hugging weapon resistant to jamming containing, according to the Financial Times,  electronic components from Switzerland’s STMicroelectronics and the US’ Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, and Intel, among others.

According to the Ukrainian military observer Oleh Zhdanov, Russian ground crews stationed in the Crimea and Russia’s Kursk regions each fired one modern Iskander-M ballistic missile towards central Ukraine.

At the same time, reports said, a pair of Air Force Tu-22M-3 supersonic bombers over west Russia fired two Soviet-era Kh-22 anti-ship cruise missiles, two or three Su-34 fighter bombers fired three Kh-69 cruise missiles probably over Russia’s western Belgorod region, a MiG-31K interceptor shot off a “hypersonic” Kinzhal missile, probably in the same general area, and a flotilla of warships in the landlocked Caspian Sea launched 14 Kalibr cruise missiles.

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Air warfare analyst Tom Cooper wrote that the Russian objective was probably to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses across the country with many missiles approached from many different directions, with the main effort aimed at Kyiv.

Map graphic produced by the mil-blogger @war_monitor showing flight paths of Russian missiles some Kh-101 missiles bypassing the Ukrainian capital to attack it from the west on July 8.

Russian air, naval, and ground forces launched an almost simultaneous combined attack consisting of five different types of long-range missiles. Both high velocity ballistic and lower speed cruise missiles arrived in Kyiv’s airspace “practically at the same time,” Zhdanov said in comments to 24Kanal.

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The Ukrainian military later in the day claimed it had shot down 31 from a total of 38 Russian missiles. This was on par with Ukrainian air defense successes over the course of the war which usually averages between 60 and 80 percent of attacking missiles destroyed.

According to reports from the ground and damage to buildings, some of the missiles aimed at Kyiv appear to have made their final approach from the west or north. Ukrainian milbloggers and air defense networks reported that, before heading to Kyiv, Kh-101 missiles were spotted above the western Zhytomyr region before turning towards the Ukrainian capital. Zhdanov said one missile group flew as far west as Ternopil before reversing course.

Screenshot of News24 interview with Ukrainian military expert Oleh Zhdanov saying Russian July 8 missiles strike “effectively surrounded the capital” and claimed the deadly Okhmadyt Children’s Hospital strike was intentional.

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The keystone of Kyiv’s air defenses is the MIM-104 Patriot air defense system employing at least three launchers and two radars, combined with an undeclared number of shorter-range NASAMS anti-aircraft missiles deployed around the capital.

According to some Ukrainian milbloggers and international observers, Russian missiles approaching Kyiv from the north and the west exploited a weakness in the Patriot radars: the system can spot almost anything in the air at hundreds of kilometers, but the radar is stationary, does not sweep, and covers an arc of 60 degrees probably covering the most usual directions of attack.

Air defense commanders responsible for the air space above Kyiv have shot down hundreds of Russian missiles approaching the city from the south and east, but when Russian strike planners sent missiles from the north and west, the Patriot radars were looking in the wrong direction, some observers said. Actual locations and dispositions of Ukrainian air defense assets are a military secret.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yury Ihnat in a statement later in the day said Russian attack tactics were becoming increasingly sophisticated, and that in the latest strike incoming missiles flew at 50 meters above the ground, much lower than in previous strikes.

Ukrainian media and open-source imagery showed between six and eight heavy explosions across west-central Kyiv, on Monday.

According to most reports, at least one and possible two Kh-101 missiles struck buildings belonging to the Okhmadyt Children’s Hospital. Social media footage geo-located to the area showed smoke rising from one hit as a Kh-101 missile arriving almost vertically from a western trajectory struck a two story clinic.

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Other video recorded missile strikes about 1.5 kilometers away in the capital’s Lukyanivka district while the Kyiv mayor’s office reported three missiles had struck power transformer stations in two southern districts of the city.

Fragmentary images of incoming weapons and smoke and flame from explosions seemed to be consistent with missile strikes hitting from a westward direction, with some missiles visibly approached targets nearly straight downwards.

The Kremlin denied responsibility, claiming the hospital had been hit by debris from Ukrainian air defense missiles. Ukrainian media and officials said the hospital strike was intentional and part of a Russian campaign to terrorize the Ukrainian people. The independent research group bellingcat.com confirmed the view that Russia had targeted the hospital.

Kyiv Post review of video showing missile strikes and their locations, and eyewitnesses, concluded that the chances of the facility having been hit by accident were extremely low.

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Sophisticated Russian planning that brought at least six heavy missiles into air space over central Kyiv, some visibly flying normally and unaffected by Ukrainian air defenses, strengthens the argument that the Kremlin weapons hit what they were aimed at.

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