The US supplied multiple rocket launch systems have proved to be a game changer in the war in Ukraine. Ukrainian commanders have used the precision weapons to target ammunition depots, supply lines and Russian command posts deep behind enemy lines. HIMARS are credited with helping Ukraine’s army to stall the Russian advance in the east and could yet help to pave the way for a counterattack in the Kherson region.
The Kremlin has scrambled its resources in a desperate bid to locate and destroy the artillery systems, as it seeks to counter their influence on the battlefield.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu is reported to have issued instructions to his commanders to “prioritise the defeat of the enemy’s long-range missile and artillery assets.”
To that effect, Russian spies have been sent to hunt down the deadly weapons, but so far have drawn blanks.
The latest attempt to find HIMARS ended in more ignominy for the Kremlin, as a portly Russian spy was apprehended next to his car by Ukrainian intelligence (SBU) officers.
The man, wearing a t-shirt and blue shorts, was photographed being handcuffed by soldiers.
The SBU later said in a statement that the Russian agent was a resident of the Mykolaiv region and was “hunting” HIMARS.
They added he had been collecting intelligence on the deployment, movement and armament of Ukraine’s Defence Forces in the south.
The SBU concluded: “The aggressor planned to use the received information to prepare and carry out sabotage and missile strikes.”
The Biden Administration has delivered around 16 HIMARS to Ukraine since the beginning of the summer.
The Kremlin has repeatedly said it has destroyed a number of the artillery systems, without producing any evidence to back up its claims.
Russian propagandists have even tried to suggest that the Russian military could hack into and precisely locate the lethal rocket launchers.
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Both Washington and Kyiv have emphatically denied that any HIMARS have as yet been destroyed.
Earlier in August, a Pentagon spokesman said the Russian claims were “patently false”.
Todd Breasseale added: “What is happening, however, is that the Ukrainians are employing with devastating accuracy and effectiveness, each of the fully accounted for precision missile systems the US, our Allies, and partners have provided them to defend against Russia’s brutal, criminal invasion.’
The UK has also supplied Ukraine with precision long-range multiple rocket launch systems (MLRS).
The British Defence Minister, Ben Wallace, announced in June the UK would M-270 MLRS to Ukraine to help Kyiv defend itself against the Russians.
The initial consignment is believed to have consisted of three artillery systems. Subsequently, more were delivered in August.
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It comes as Ukraine appears to be stepping up its artillery attacks in the Kherson region and Crimea
New video footage on Telegram channels shows explosions lighting up the night’s sky in and around Kherson.
The “Hueviy-Kherson” Telegram channel claimed Russian military equipment had been destroyed in hangars at Lyubimovka.
Additionally, ammunition dumps were eliminated in Kherson in the so-called “area 90 of the zone”.
The channel said that Nova Kakhovka, which is home to a hydroelectric station, had also been targeted by Ukrainian artillery strikes.