Are the HIMARS failing? Ukraine’s top commander says US MLRS cannot attack Russian military positions

With Ukraine expecting Russia to start a new offensive early next year, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces indicated that Kyiv might find it difficult to attack Russian forces with its HIMARS MLRS.

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The HIMARS has drawn much attention as one of the most effective weapons the United States has provided to Ukraine in the ongoing battle due to its ability to deliver devastating and precise strikes against Russian positions.

However, Commander-in-Chief General Valeriy Zaluzhny said that Russian forces have now become accustomed to Ukraine’s HIMARS systems. The additional that they [Russian forces] moved to a distance that HIMARS cannot reach. And we don’t have anything with a higher range.”

Ukraine’s military leadership has been calling for long-range weapons to attack Russian forces at a greater distance. But so far, the US and its allies have refrained from supplying such weapons to Kyiv.

In early December, it was reported that the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that the United States delivered to Ukraine were secretly modified to prevent them from launching long-range rockets at Russia.

Since June, Washington has sent 20 HIMARS to Kyiv along with a sizeable reserve of satellite-guided rockets with a range of up to 50 miles (80 kilometers).

The modifications were made so that they could not be used to launch long-range missiles at Russia, something the Biden administration believes is essential to lessen the likelihood of a broader battle with Moscow.

HIMARS Ukraine

In addition, the US has avoided sending rockets from the Army Tactical Missile System (ATMS), a surface-to-surface missile with a range of 186 miles.

Washington does not want Ukraine to hit inside Russia. According to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, they did not encourage or allow the Ukrainians to attack the Russian mainland.

Separately, a US military officer told the times that the United States is not telling Kyiv: “Don’t hit the Russians [in Russia or Crimea].” He said that the United States could not advise Kyiv what to do; it was up to them how to use their weapons.

“But when they use the weapons we have supplied, the only thing we insist on is that the Ukrainian military conform to the international laws of war and the Geneva conventions,” the US official added.

Zaluzhny claimed that they could defeat the enemy but needed more resources. He estimated that 300 tanks, 600-700 infantry fighting vehicles, and 500 howitzers were needed to counter the upcoming Russian offensive.

Russia’s new offensive

Ukrainian military officials predicted that Russia would begin a new attack early next year that could involve a second effort to seize the capital, Kyiv. The Economist magazine quoted President Volodymyr Zelensky, General Valery Zaluzhny and General Oleksandr Syrskiye on December 15 saying that the new Moscow offensive could start in January.

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The effort, which could involve another ground attack on Kyiv, which Moscow was unable to conquer early in the invasion, could be carried out from the south, neighboring Belarus or the eastern Donbas region, according to officials.

MiG-31

Zaluzhny noted that the Russians are preparing to launch another assault on Kyiv with an additional 200,000 troops. Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, stated that there was growing evidence that Russia was planning a major attack on Ukraine.

He predicted this could happen in February, when half of the 300,000 soldiers Russia recruited in October to help in the war would have finished their training. Meanwhile, both sides have rejected a Christmas truce and there are currently no ongoing talks to resolve Europe’s worst conflict since World War Two.

Leaders of the European Union decided on December 15 to fund Ukraine with 18 billion euros ($19.1 billion) next year and impose the ninth set of sanctions on Moscow, whose invasion is now in its 10th month.

Since October, Russia has launched a barrage of missiles at Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, disrupting power supplies and depriving people of heat during the harsh winter.

On December 16, Russia fired a barrage of missiles in the Ukraine, knocking out electricity in Kharkiv, critical infrastructure in the south and shelling the nation’s capital, Kyiv.

Ukraine has repeatedly requested that its allies supply more air defenses to fend off Russian missile attacks, especially on its energy infrastructure. Washington is also believed to be planning to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, but experts say that might not be enough.

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