Ukraine has successfully used High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to take out more than 100 “high value” Russian targets including ammunition depots, long-range artillery positions, command posts, air-defense sites and radar and communications nodes, a senior US defense official told reporters.
The US provided Ukraine with HIMARS as part of billions of dollars in military assistance to support the Eastern European nation as it defends itself against Moscow’s invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the internationally condemned war nearly five months ago on February 24, bizarrely claiming that Kyiv’s government is led by Nazis. In reality, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is Jewish and had family members killed in the Holocaust.
Speaking to journalists on Friday, a senior US defense official cited by reporters with Reuters, PBS, CNN and Fox News said that the HIMARS were having a significant impact in Ukraine’s fight against Russia. The official said that more than a hundred “high value” targets had already been taken out by Ukraine’s military with the weapons system.
Additionally, the official said that Ukraine has managed to take out “hundreds” of colonels, “many” generals and “thousands” of lieutenants and captains.
“They can’t keep it up forever,” the official said of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. “They have expended a lot of their smarter munitions….Their capabilities are getting dumber.”
On Wednesday, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that Ukraine’s use of the HIMARS was “degrading” Russia’s capabilities.
“These strikes are steadily degrading the Russian ability to supply their troops, command and control of their forces, and carry out their illegal war of aggression,” Milley said. He also said that Moscow had thus far failed to destroy any of the rocket systems. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that more HIMARS would be sent to Ukraine as well.
Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov, the official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, recently told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency that Moscow’s military destroyed a launcher and the transport-loading vehicle of a US-made HIMARS. On Friday, Russia claimed to have destroyed four HIMARS.
Newsweek contacted the Russian foreign ministry for comment.
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, told Newsweek last week that Russia’s forces have been in “panic mode” since the HIMARS arrived in Ukraine.
Despite Russia’s substantially larger military and its apparently more advanced stockpile of weapons, Ukraine successfully repelled Moscow’s initial invasion. Putin and other Kremlin officials reportedly incorrectly believed that their military could quickly take control of the Eastern European nation and topple Zelensky’s government.
Russia was forced to walk back its ambitions and focus on the east of the country. Putin’s troops have made more significant progress there. But military analysts have said that Russia continues to make blunders and is taking heavy losses for such relatively minimal success.