U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, denied a report published by the Russian state media that its forces had destroyed HIMARS rocket systems in Ukraine.
“None of the U.S.-provided HIMARS systems has been destroyed in Ukraine by Russian forces,” Milley said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on 6 June that its armed forces had destroyed two advanced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and their ammunition depots in eastern Ukraine, an assertion later rejected by Kyiv.
Russia is concerned about the appearance of U.S.-made rocket systems in service with the Ukrainian army and is making attempts to destroy them and discredit the Ukrainian military in the eyes of their partners. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered generals to prioritize destroying the HIMARS and other long-range artillery during a visit to the front in Ukraine on July 18, a tacit acknowledgment of how significant their impact has been.
Just last week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov praised his military’s ability to inflict serious damage on Russia’s occupying forces in Ukraine, particularly through the long-awaited high-mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) from the United States. “For us, saving the lives of our people is of crucial importance now,” he said. “That’s why we’re using HIMARS systems precisely like the scalpel of a doctor [in] surgery.”
Rockets and artillery will be essential for Ukraine to turn the tide of the war and push back Russian forces in a counteroffensive, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the Financial Times. “We give them proof that we can use it with precision and sophistication and we get more, and longer range,” Reznikov said. He also dismissed the risks of arms smuggling, saying it was in the interest of Ukraine to keep track of Western countries’ weapons.
According to the head of the Ukrainian army Valery Zaluzhny, thanks to American HIMARS, it was possible to stabilize the situation on the battlefield. Thanks to the new weapons, the Ukrainian army is capable of precise attacks on ammunition depots, fuel stocks and control centers, according to Zaluzhny.