The Russian military claimed on Wednesday that it destroyed two High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) missile launchers in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.
“In the area of the village of Malotaranovka, high-precision air-launched missiles destroyed two US-made HIMARS multiple missile launchers and two ammunition depots for them,” announced Russia’s Defense Ministry, according to Russian news outlet RIA Novosti. The Defense Ministry reportedly added that a radar station for a Ukrainian S-300 missile system was destroyed in southern Ukraine. Malotaranovka is located to the south of Kramatorsk, a city in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region that sits on the path of Russia’s ongoing offensive in the Donbass region.
Ukrainian military officials rejected Russia’s claims as “fake,” adding that the country’s armed forces are using HIMARS systems to inflict “devastating blows” on the Russian military, according to Reuters.
The White House was previously reluctant to provide Ukraine with heavy, long-range weapons out of concern that they could be used to strike targets on Russian soil and escalate the conflict. The Biden administration announced in May that HIMARS systems would be delivered to Ukraine after reportedly receiving assurances from Kyiv that the weapons would not be used to strike Russian targets inside Russia. Ukraine has received only four HIMARS systems as of early July.
Russian experts expressed alarm over Washington’s HIMARS shipments to Ukraine. “Of all possible armaments supplied by the collective West, the M270 MLRS [multiple launch rocket system] and M142 HIMARS [High Mobility Artillery Rocket System] are the most dangerous and capable weapons available to the Ukrainian armed forces that can influence combat operations," Russian reserve officer Alexey Sakantsev told Russian state news outlet TASS. "To my mind, it is vitally necessary to destroy such systems at their stationing places before they move into firing positions and the Russian Aerospace Forces are capable of fulfilling this task,” Sakanstev added.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Western countries on Wednesday for stepping up deliveries of heavy weapons systems to Ukraine’s armed forces. "Finally it is felt that the Western artillery—the weapons we received from our partners— started working very powerfully," he said. "Its accuracy is exactly as needed. Our defenders inflict very noticeable strikes on depots and other spots that are important for the logistics of the occupiers. And this significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian army,” Zelenskyy added. "The losses of the occupiers will only increase every week, as will the difficulty of supplying them."
Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.