Ukraine strikes behind Russian lines with long-range launchers from the West

Japanese HIMARS launcher
Japanese HIMARS launcher Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian forces are using new, long-range rocket launchers provided by Western countries to strike targets far behind Russian lines, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The Times describes a "fireball" that "lit up the sky" over occupied Luhansk on Wednesday morning in what Russian media described as a strike on an aircraft battery.

Russian state media reported that similar strikes against ammunition depots near Kherson in southern Ukraine actually targeted civilians, leaving seven dead. Ukraine's military rejected this claim.

Per the Times, Ukrainian forces are carrying out these strikes with "truck-mounted, multiple rocket launchers known as High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS."

As explained here at The Week, "HIMARS is a lighter, more mobile cousin of the [Multiple Launch Rocket System]" and has an effective range of more than 180 miles. That's 10 times the range of the M777 howitzers the U.S. previously sent Ukraine.

On June 1, a U.S. official confirmed that the HIMARS was headed to Kyiv as part of a new $700 million military aid package.

If Ukraine is able to successfully disrupt Russia's logistics and artillery operations, this could be a game changer. During the Donbas campaign, Russia has relied heavily on its massive artillery advantage to drive back Ukrainian forces, shooting some 50,000 artillery rounds per day, 10 times what Ukraine could manage.

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Ukraine strikes behind Russian lines with long-range launchers from the West