Thu, 14 July 2022 at 12:16 pm
Ukraine hopes highly-precise missile systems supplied by the US – that have killed hundreds of Vladimir Putin’s troops over recent weeks – can help it defeat Russia and regain control of captured parts of the country.
In late June, the US sent eight high mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars) to Ukraine on the condition that it would not use them against targets on Russian soil. Four more units are expected by the end of July.
The Himars – more powerful than the M777 Howitzers that Washington sent Ukraine in April – can fire six 227mm GPS-guided missiles at a time and, because they are mounted on a wheeled truck, are capable of fleeing a scene quickly and dodging retaliatory attacks.
Colin Kahl, the US undersecretary for defence policy, said last month that the Lockheed Martin-manufactured Himars allows the striking of targets with greater range and accuracy than other artillery weapons.
“Himars is turning the tide of the war,” Ukrainian military commanders have told The Economist newspaper.
Ukraine’s new advantage in the war, which has gone on for five months so far, has been proven by the obliteration of Russian military officials, ammunition depots and command posts in Ukraine.
Earlier this week, a Russian ammunition depot exploded in the Russian-controlled city of Nova Kakhovka in Kherson, southern Ukraine.
The entire facility was destroyed overnight and 52 of Putin’s troops – including 12 military officers – were killed, the Ukrainian military said.
About 19 such depots have been destroyed by Himars artillery over the past fortnight or so, according to open-source analyst Kyle Glen – as reported by website Foreign Policy.
Also, Ukraine said that about 150 Russian troops and senior military officers were killed by a Himars strike on a command post in the Kherson region on Sunday (10 July).
It said that those killed include Colonel Andrey Gorobets – commander of Russia’s 20th Motor Rifle Division, at least three of the division’s senior officers, as well as Major General Nasbulin – chief of staff of the 22nd army corps.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson of Odesa regional military administration, announced on Telegram the deaths of the men that were among 150 of Putin’s troops killed in the attack involving Himars artillery.
Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko said that the strike was carried out on Russian barracks located in the centre of Odesa in southern Ukraine.
Himars artillery has also been used against Russian targets in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Donbas – Kirill Mikhailov of the Conflict Intelligence Team, an open-source research group, has said.
Ukrainian commanders are hopeful that Himars would allow them to regain power amid the Russian invasion, which has resulted in the loss of control over cities Severodonetsk and Lysychansk in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine.
The weapons had been sent as part of $700 million (£560m) of military aid package – the 11th approved so far by US president Joe Biden – that included helicopters, anti-tank weapon systems and tactical vehicles.