Ukraine said it has used US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems to destroy 50 Russian ammunition depots since receiving the weapons last month, while Russia has claimed its forces destroyed a HIMARS ammunition depot in Ukraine’s Khmelnytskyi region.
Moscow has previously said it has destroyed several of the high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) supplied to Ukraine by the West, in claims denied by Kyiv.
On Monday, Ukraine’s defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov underlined the growing impact that the HIMARS appear to be having as Ukraine tries to repel Russia’s invasion.
“This cuts their [Russian] logistical chains and takes away their ability to conduct active fighting and cover our armed forces with heavy shelling,” Reznikov said in comments on national television.
Reznikov’s remarks could not be independently verified. Russia did not immediately comment on the claims.
Reznikov said Ukrainian artillery crews had conducted “precise” attacks on several bridges. He gave no details but was apparently referring to three river crossings in the Russian-occupied Kherson region, which local occupation authorities say were attacked by HIMARS over the past week.
Reznikov also said Ukraine had received three Gepard anti-aircraft armoured fighting vehicles, the first of 15 expected, and that Kyiv was expecting to take delivery of several dozen Leopard tanks.
Russia meanwhile says it has destroyed several HIMARS, though Ukraine has denied this. In the latest such report, Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday its forces had destroyed an ammunition depot for HIMARS in the Khmelnytskyi region in western Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have said repeatedly that Western supplies of weapons are critical to Ukraine’s military effort, and underlined the importance of the HIMARS because of Russia’s artillery supremacy in terms of numbers and ammunition.
HIMARS are a high-tech, lightweight rocket launcher that is wheel-mounted, giving it more agility and manoeuvrability on the battlefield.
Each unit can carry six GPS-guided rockets, which can be reloaded in about a minute with only a small crew.
Analysts say the system has a longer range and is more precise than the Soviet-era artillery that Ukraine had in its arsenal.
Russia has criticised the United States in particular for providing Ukraine with instructors to help Ukrainian forces use HIMARS.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has captured a chunk of territory in southern Ukraine and used its artillery supremacy in the east to make gradual territorial gains.