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Ukraine Strikes Show Impact of New Western Weapons

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Smoke rises in the sky after shelling at the frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in the Donbas region, Ukraine July 12, 2022. | Image byReuters)

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Long-range artillery from the West is altering the strategic balance of the conflict in Ukraine, according to media reports.

The Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions have all had large explosions in the last week. The targeting has been very successful, according to data that includes satellite images and analyses by Western experts.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian troops attacked an air defense system in the eastern Russian-occupied territory of the nation.

Official Russian news outlets reported that Ukrainian forces had attacked the system guarding the skies over Luhansk, the capital of one of two statelets Russia established in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Since the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) started to arrive from the U.S. last month, Ukraine has carried out several strikes against high-value targets, including ammo depots and command headquarters.

“The occupiers have already felt very well what modern artillery is, and they will not have a safe rear anywhere on our land,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address.

The HIMARS multiple launch rocket system from the United States is the best in its class, but the Ukrainians have also gotten M777 howitzers from the U.S. and Canada and Caesar long-range howitzers from France.

Residents of Luhansk shared a video of an enormous explosion late Tuesday on social media. Russian reporters claimed on social media that Ukrainian forces had attacked a munitions depot in the city of Luhansk.

“The armed forces of Ukraine launched a massive attack on the military air-defense unit, which ensures the security of the city of Luhansk,” said Andriy Marochko, a spokesman for the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic people’s militia.

The Luhansk People’s Republic also said Ukrainian troops had fired nine missiles from HIMARS against Luhansk.

HIMARS is a versatile weapon. Due to its mobility, it is more challenging to target, and only eight men are needed to operate it. The range of the rockets is about 50 miles.

According to Mick Ryan, a military expert and retired major-general of Australia, “[HIMARS] is used to destroy critical communications nodes, command posts, airfields, and important logistics facilities.”

Therefore, senior Russian officers are particularly exposed. The precision of HIMARS also allows the Ukrainians to relax their concern for civilian deaths. According to two defense sources who spoke to CNN, the guided rockets are accurate to within 7 to 10 feet because of their GPS guiding systems, which allow the Ukrainians to use fewer rounds to hit their targets precisely at a distance.

After weeks of grueling conflict that cost both sides dearly, Russian forces announced earlier this month that they were in complete control of the Luhansk area.

The exiled governor of Luhansk, Serhiy Haidai, said that attacks on Russian munitions storage facilities had cut off supplies. He also noted a rise in Russian subversion and reconnaissance organizations looking for weaknesses in Ukrainian defenses.

The Russian military has also increased its missile attacks on locations further from the battle lines.

According to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy director of the Ukrainian president’s office, five people were killed by Russian artillery on Wednesday in attacks on the southern district of Mykolaiv. He also mentioned that residential and hospital structures had suffered damage.

The local military command said that Russia also launched two missiles against the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia.

Russian forces shelled the Nikopol neighborhood of Dnipropetrovsk overnight using multiple-launch missile systems, according to Ukrainian official Valentyn Reznichenko.

On Monday night, a substantial Ukrainian attack against a warehouse appeared to have used the HIMARS in the Kherson region’s Nova Kakhovka village. According to a CNN analysis of satellite images, the hit sparked more explosions and left significant damage.

According to Phillips O’Brien, a professor of strategic studies at St. Andrews University, the Nova Kakhovka strike shows “the state of the logistics war and the real problems the Russians face.”

The target was close to a rail hub, which was crucial to the Russian logistical effort to support their invasion.

“The Russians left a ludicrously easy to locate, major supply depot exactly where someone would expect to find it. Either the Russians are unable to react because of command failure, or they can’t actually move the depots because they lack the road movement,” O’Brien tweeted.

Ryan cautions that while the HIMARS “has provided the Ukrainian Armed Forces with a new ‘Long Hand’ to attack the Russian invaders, there is no such thing as a silver bullet solution in war.”

However, U.S. authorities believe the missile’s accuracy and other precise long-range systems will gradually alter the battlefield.

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