Ukraine hits Russia hard with US rocket systems, war rages in East

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(CN) — With the arrival of advanced US rocket systems on the battlefield, Ukraine claims success in its efforts to slow the advance of Russian forces and turn the tide of the war in its favor.

Over the past few days, Ukraine has fired a barrage of missiles from US-supplied rocket systems at Russian command posts, ammunition depots and other targets far from the front lines.

The United States has sent eight high-mobility artillery rocket systems, known as HIMARS, to Ukraine and four more are on the way. The UK, Germany and Norway are expected to send nine more similar rocket systems. HIMARS are mobile systems that fire guided missiles with a range of approximately 50 miles. The shipment of these advanced weapons angered the Kremlin and heightened tensions.

Kyiv also says it is assembling a million-strong fighting force to retake southern parts of Ukraine seized by Russian troops. Russia now controls a large swath of territory stretching from Kherson on the Black Sea to Mariupol on the Sea of ​​Azov.

Fighting continued in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with Russian forces making small advances in recent days in the Donetsk region, one of two areas at the heart of the conflict. After 140 days of fighting, Russia occupied about 20% of Ukraine.

But the fighting has slowed in recent days, the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based military think tank, said in its most recent analysis. He said Russian forces were in a “theater-wide operational pause” as they “regroup, rest, rearrange and reconstitute” and “bombard critical areas to create the conditions for future offensives. terrestrial; and conduct limited probing attacks.

Civilian deaths caused by both sides continue to rise.

On Saturday evening, Russia was accused of bomb a five story apartment building in Chasiv Yar, a town of some 12,000 people struggling for the Donetsk region. By Wednesday, 47 bodies had been pulled from the rubble, according to Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine was accused of launching HIMARS missiles that killed at least seven people and injured around 90 others in Nova Kakhovka, a town of 45,000 people in the Russian-held southern Kherson region. Regional military officials said the attack destroyed 65 homes, three factories and more than 200 shops. Ukraine said it was targeting an ammunition dump there.

In this 2011 file photo, a launch truck fires the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) produced by Lockheed Martin during combat training in the high desert at Yakima Training Center in Washington state. (Tony Overman/The Olympian via AP, File)

The deployment of HIMARS boosts Ukraine’s confidence.

“The occupiers have already understood very well what modern artillery is, and they won’t have a safe place anywhere on our lands they occupy,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his speech. nocturnal message Tuesday.

Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region, which is now fully under Russian control, boasted in a Newsweek interview that Russia was in “panic mode” over the HIMARS strikes.

“As the world has seen over the past week, we were able to inflict massive damage to their missile defense systems and ammunition storage facilities deep behind enemy lines,” Haidai said. He said this “was largely due to the variety of weapons we have recently received from the West. And when we have enough such weapons, we will be able to carry out new counterattacks.

In a interview with the Times newspaper, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Ukraine would be able to retake southern territories from Russia once it was better equipped with advanced Western weapons and would muster a fighting force of one million. He said Zelenskyy ordered the army to carry out a counteroffensive in the south.

Reznikov said Ukraine needed more sophisticated weapons from the West.

“We need more, quickly, to save the lives of our soldiers. Every day we wait for howitzers, we can lose a hundred soldiers,” he said.

Ukrainian forces are also trained by NATO. Britain says it trains 10,000 soldiers every 120 days. The United States is also training Ukrainians on how to use HIMARS.

“We are sure that the anti-Kremlin coalition was born. Our partners in London and Washington, DC, and other capitals, they are invested in us, not just with money, but with the expectations of their people that we have to make the Kremlin lose. We must win this war together,” Reznikov said.

Reznikov said that Russia should not only be defeated, but also divided into small countries. In the West, it has become common to say that Russia, like other former empires, must be “decolonized” and divided into smaller republics. Russia, of course, views such rhetoric coming from the West as an existential threat and confirmation that the United States has long harbored such designs.

“I am sure that in the next few years we will see a procession of calls for sovereignty over Russian territory. The Russian Federation will end its life as different countries – Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, etc. “, he told The Times.

Yet the direction the war will take and the magnitude of the effect the HIMARS and other high-end weapon systems will have are far from clear.

Mick Ryan, a retired Major General in the Australian Army and a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the HIMARS “are great” for Ukraine, but “some perspective is needed before that expectations about their impact do not become too exaggerated”.

“They are once again attacking Russia’s weak points – its railroad-centric logistics, its overly talkative battlefield generals, and its overreliance on massive artillery to advance east,” he said. Ryan in comments on Twitter.

“Beyond the physical, there is a psychological impact. Now a much larger proportion of the Russian invasion force is within the radius that can be attacked,” he said. “They will have seen its impact, on social media and in person.”

But he added that “we must not present HIMARS as the miracle weapon that will change the tide of the war…HIMARS is having a big impact and will continue to do so, but on its own it will not win this war. “.

Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.

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