Russian claims of destroying Ukrainian HIMARS false -Pentagon

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting of the Defence Ministry Board in Moscow
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(Reuters) -The Pentagon on Tuesday denied Russian claims that the country had destroyed six U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, according to Interfax, said on Tuesday that Russia had destroyed the HIMARS after Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24.

"We are aware of these latest claims by Minister Shoigu and they are again patently false," Todd Breasseale, the Pentagon's acting spokesman, said.

"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 U.S., our Allies, and partners have provided them to defend against Russia’s brutal, criminal invasion," Breasseale added.

Russia regularly claims it has hit HIMARS, but has yet to show proof.

Shoigu said Russia had also destroyed five anti-ship Harpoon missile launch systems and 33 M777 howitzers since Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine.

Reuters could not verify the accuracy of the reports.

Ukraine officials have said they operate up to a dozen HIMARS systems, whose accuracy and long range have allowed Kyiv to reduce Russia's artillery advantage.

(Reporting by ReutersAdditional reporting by Idrees Ali in WashingtonEditing by Andrew Heavens and Matthew Lewis)