The Russian defence ministry has claimed its forces have destroyed two US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) missile launchers in the embattled Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
The ministry said on Wednesday that Russian forces also destroyed two ammunition depots storing rockets for the highly-advanced HIMARS near the front line in a village south of Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk region – the main focus of Moscow’s military offensive following the capture of the Luhansk region during the weekend.
“Near the village of Malotaranovi in the Donetsk People’s Republic, two launchers of the US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launcher and two associated ammunition depots were destroyed by air-launched high-precision missiles,” Russian defence ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov also said that a radar station for a Ukrainian-operated S-300 air-defence system along with a camp housing “foreign mercenary units” was also destroyed in the Limany area in the Mykolaiv region.
The ministry released video footage which it said showed the strike. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the ministry’s claims.
Ukraine’s general staff rejected Russia’s account later on Wednesday. In a post on Twitter, it said the claims were “fake” and that it was using the US-supplied HIMARS to inflict “devastating blows” on Russian forces.
Ukraine had received only four HIMARS systems from the US as of early July, the European Council on Foreign Relations said in a report. Washington had pledged to deliver eight of the missile systems by mid-July.
Western weapon supplies have been crucial to Ukraine’s efforts to push back the tens of thousands of Russian troops that Moscow sent into Ukraine on February 24 in what it calls a “special military operation”.
Twenty-five of the 28 nations providing military assistance to Ukraine are NATO members, including the US and UK, which are supplying Kyiv with sophisticated weapons such as multiple rocket launch systems (MLRS).
The military aid sent to Ukraine also includes conventional weapons, as well as more advanced equipment and weaponry.
Yet, despite its growing arsenal, Ukraine, which has just 200,000 active military personnel, remains significantly outgunned by Russian forces.
Ukraine has said that Russia has been using inaccurate Soviet-era missiles to hit military and critical infrastructure, killing many civilians in raids, a charge Moscow has denied.