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Pentagon chief says Russian hypersonic missiles not ‘a game changer’ in Ukraine

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in Vilnius, Lithuania, on February 19, 2022. (PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP)
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in Vilnius, Lithuania, on February 19, 2022. (PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP)

WASHINGTON — Russia’s claim it used a hypersonic missile in Ukraine was a way to reclaim war momentum, but the next-generation weaponry has not proved to be a “game changer,” the Pentagon’s chief says today.

Moscow has said it has fired two hypersonic missiles in Ukraine, and while US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin won’t “confirm or dispute” whether Russia used such weapons, he warns that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion is undergoing a change in tactics including the targeting of civilians.

Russia’s use of the hard-to-intercept hypersonics would mark a dramatic escalation of its campaign to force Ukraine to abandon hopes of closer ties with the West.

But “I would not see it as a game changer,” Austin tells CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”

“I think the reason he is resorting to using these types of weapons is because he is trying to re-establish some momentum,” he adds. “And again, we’ve seen him attack towns and cities and civilians outright (and) we expect to see that continue.”

Ukraine’s outgunned military has put up unexpectedly intense resistance that has slowed Russia’s advance, stalling its forces outside the capital Kyiv and several other cities, making Moscow’s supply lines vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks.

“They presented some significant problems for the Russians,” and the stalling of Putin’s troops on the ground “has had the effect of him moving his forces into a wood chipper,” Austin says.

“The Ukrainians have continued to trip his forces, and they’ve been very effective using the equipment we provided them.”

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