Putin mouthpiece issues stark warning to the West
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According to the news report, in the past week, there have been enormous explosions in several occupied areas in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions. The available evidence, from satellite imagery and Western analysts, is that the targeting has been highly effective.
For months the Ukrainian military pleaded for long-range precision artillery and rocket systems from Western partners.
Now they have them and are deploying them to considerable effect in both the south and east of the country.
CNN reported that the Ukrainian military is not giving away many specifics but Vadim Denysenko, a senior official at the Interior Ministry, said Wednesday that in the past two weeks “above all things thanks to the weapons that Ukraine received, we were able to destroy approximately two dozen warehouses with weapons and stocks of fuel and lubricants”.
Best-in-class is the US-supplied HIMARS multiple launch rocket system, but the Ukrainians have also received M777 howitzers from both the US and Canada, and Caesar long-range howitzers from France.
In addition, the UK has committed to providing M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), which are more powerful than HIMARS, but it’s unclear when Ukraine will complete training on the system and deploy it.
The HIMARS’ versatility is in its name – the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System.
Its mobility makes it harder to target and it can be crewed by just eight soldiers.
The rockets supplied to Ukraine have a range of 70 to 80 kilometers (about 50 miles).
And their GPS guidance systems make them extremely accurate.
Local pro-Russian officials said parts of one HIMARS rocket were recovered; the serial numbers matched the weapon.
There were also large explosions in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, setting off multiple detonations.
The same happened at Shakhtarsk in Donetsk and in the Kherson region at the weekend, as well as near Melitopol in Zaporizhzhia last week.
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Altogether, it appears that about a dozen targets deep behind Russian lines have been hit in July, most of them at least 40 kilometers behind the front — a distance at which accuracy with old Tochka-U missiles would be difficult.
The Ukrainians have also been firing HIMARS at night, making it more difficult for the Russians to spot and strike the launchers.
Russian forces have struggled to fight at night since the beginning of the conflict, and the Ukrainians are still using this to their advantage.
Targeting may also have been made easier by the way the Russian military stores and moves its weapons.
As Mick Ryan, a military analyst and former Australian major-general, told CNN: “It is used to destroy critical communications nodes, command posts, airfields, and important logistics facilities.”
Senior Russian officers are therefore especially vulnerable.
HIMARS’ accuracy also means the Ukrainians can worry less about civilian casualties.
The guided rockets are accurate to within two to three meters, two defence officials told CNN, allowing the Ukrainians to use far fewer rounds to hit targets precisely at distance.
The HIMARS appears to have been used in a massive strike against a warehouse in the town of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region on Monday night.
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