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U.S. hardware helps Ukraine fend off increasingly heavy Russian missile and drone attacks

Ukraine shoots down deadly Russian missiles
Ukraine defends itself from deadly Russian missile attacks 01:59

Kharkiv, Ukraine — Russia launched some of its heaviest air attacks to date targeting Ukraine's capital and other major cities overnight and into Monday morning. Videos posted online showed children and adults running for shelters as air raid sirens blared in Kyiv.

The head of Ukraine's armed forces said in a social media post that "up to 40 missiles" and "around 35 drones" were launched, of which virtually all were shot down by the country's air defenses. Emergency workers doused burning rocket debris that fell onto a road in northern Kyiv, and Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said fragments that fell in another district set a building alight, killing at least one person and injuring another.

Aftermath of Rocket attack in Ukraine's Kyiv
Police inspect debris after parts of a Russian rocket, shot down by Ukrainian air defenses, fell onto a street in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 29, 2023. Danylo Antoniuk/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Searchlights combed the night skies over Kyiv, hunting for exploding drones before they could hurtle into the ground. It was the second night in a row that swarms of the Iranian-made aircraft were sent buzzing over the capital's skies. 

Video captured the moment one of them was shot down near the northern city of Chernihiv. That city is only about 20 miles from the border with Belarus, an autocratic country whose dictator has let Vladimir Putin use its soil to launch attacks on Ukraine since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

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Kyiv claimed that 58 out of the staggering 59 drones launched overnight were shot down. That success is thanks not only to the high-tech air defense systems that are forced into action almost nightly, but also by Ukrainians putting some good old-fashioned technology to use.

At an undisclosed military site, we watched as Ukrainian forces tested powerful new searchlights that help them locate those low-tech drones in the sky so they can be targeted from the ground.

But the other, more lethal threats flying at Ukraine require more advanced defenses. The arrival of American-made Patriot missile defense systems this spring has enabled the Ukrainians to intercept more powerful Russian missiles.

Ukraine's Patriot missile systems arrive as Kyiv aims to boost defenses against Russia 03:49

Oleksandr Ruvin, Kiyv's chief forensic investigator, showed us what was left of a Russian hypersonic "Kinzhal" missile. The Kremlin had boasted that the weapon was unstoppable, even untouchable given its speed and maneuverability.

"Thanks to our American partners, we can actually touch this missile," Ruvin told CBS News.

It now sits, along with the remains of other advanced ballistic missiles, in a growing graveyard of destroyed Russian munitions — evidence for the massive war crimes dossier Ruvin is helping compile.

He told CBS News that as Ukraine prepares for its looming counteroffensive, Russia appears to be targeting his country's air defense network, and those attacks have become more frequent.

An image from video posted online by Gov. Oleh Synehubov of Ukraine's Kharkiv region, May 29, 2023, shows damage to an apartment building from what he said was a Russian "Iskander" hypersonic missile strike that wounded six civilians.  Reuters/Handout

Not all of Russia's missiles are stopped, and another one of its hypersonic rockets, an "Iskander," slipped though the net early Monday and hit an apartment building in Kharkiv, according to the region's governor. Governor Oleh Synehubov said six people, including two children and a pregnant woman, were injured in the strike, and he posted video online of the damaged building.

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