The most advanced weapons that the United States has so far supplied Ukraine are making an impact in their first several days on the battlefield, destroying Russian ammunition depots and command centers, American and Ukrainian officials say.
Ukraine’s military had eagerly awaited the arrival of the first batch of truck-mounted, multiple-rocket launchers, whose satellite-guided rockets have a range of more than 40 miles, greater than anything Ukraine had possessed. The weapons have even won grudging respect from some Russians for their accuracy and power, analysts said.
Still, only four of the launchers, called High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS, and their U.S.-trained crews are in the fight, though four more are expected this month. Ukrainian officials say they need as many as 300 multiple-rocket launchers to combat Russia, which is firing several times as many rounds as Ukraine’s forces in the artillery-driven war of attrition in the country’s east.
Ukrainian soldiers are using their new weapon judiciously, firing one or two guided rockets at ammunition depots or command posts, often at night, and keeping them well away from the front lines to protect them, Pentagon officials and military analysts say.
“So far they seem to be a quite useful addition,” Rob Lee, a Russian military specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and a former U.S. Marine officer, said of the systems. “They will help hinder further Russian advances, but they won’t necessarily mean Ukraine will be able to take back territory.” [Continue reading…]