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HIMARS: US announces more advanced rocket systems for Ukraine

The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) fires the Army's new guided Multiple Launch Rocket System during testing at White Sands Missile Range. (U.S. Army)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States says it will send Ukraine more long-range multiple-launch rocket systems and new precision artillery shells as part of a new $400 million arms package.

The package will include four of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, with ammunition, a senior defense official told reporters on July 8.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the additional HIMARS would bring to 12 the total number of these systems sent to Ukraine since last month.

The United States started sending the systems after receiving assurances from Kyiv that it would not use them to hit targets inside Russian territory.

Ukraine’s forces have used them to attack targets such as ammunition dumps, hitting them with guided missiles launched from farther away, out of range of Russian artillery. They have not used them to strike outside of Ukraine, the official added.

They have been “successfully striking Russian locations within Ukraine, deeper behind the front lines, and disrupting Russia’s ability to conduct artillery operations,” the official said.

Using the HIMARS, the Ukrainians in the last week have been able to “significantly disrupt the ability of the Russians to move forward,” the official said.

The official acknowledged that Russian forces recently made progress in eastern Ukraine, seizing more territory, but called it “very incremental, limited, hard-fought, highly costly progress” and said it was in “certain, select small spaces in the Donbas.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said on July 3 that the Russian military had taken the entire territory of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region. Ukraine’s military command acknowledged that its forces had withdrawn from the last remaining city they held, Lysychansk, saying they had decided to pull back to save the lives of its soldiers.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s chief of staff on July 8 urged the West to send more heavy weapons to counter what he called Russia’s “scorched earth tactics.”

“With a sufficient number of howitzers, SPG, and HIMARS, our soldiers are able to stop and drive the invaders from our land,” Andriy Yermak tweeted.

The latest aid is the 15th package of military weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine from U.S. Defense Department stocks since last August.

Russia has accused the West of waging a proxy war against it by stepping up the supply of advanced weapons to Ukraine and by imposing economic sanctions.