They have long been on the wish list of the military in Kyiv for Ukraine’s defensive war against Russia: long-range multiple rocket launchers. Now the government of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can expect to receive such high-tech weapons soon. And although the Russian President and aggressor Vladimir Putin issued a new sharp threat on Saturday, Great Britain, following the USA, has now declared that it will comply with Ukraine’s requests.
On the Pentecost weekend, Putin threatened severe attacks if western long-range missiles were delivered to Ukraine. “If they deliver, then we will draw the appropriate conclusions and use our means of destruction, of which we have enough, to deal blows to those objects that we have not hitherto attacked,” Putin said in an interview published on Sunday state television channel Rossiya 1. The aim of the western arms deliveries is to prolong the conflict in Ukraine as much as possible, he said.
Great Britain announced that it would equip Ukraine with some long-range missile systems, according to BBC information there should be three. The Ministry of Defense in London said on Monday that the delivery of the US-made multiple rocket launcher artillery system (MLRS) to Ukraine was closely coordinated with the government in Washington.
The British Ministry of Defense emphasized that the planned delivery of the M270 multiple rocket launchers means “a significant boost to the capabilities of the Ukrainian army”. This weapon system can also hit targets at a distance of up to 80 kilometers with precision-guided missiles. Great Britain also wants to train Ukrainian soldiers in the use of the new weapon system.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said London was handing over these weapons to Ukraine so that it could “win” the war against Russia. “The UK stands with Ukraine in this fight and is taking a leadership role in providing her heroic troops with the critical weapons they need to defend their country against an unprovoked invasion,” Wallace said.
“If Russia’s tactics change, our support for Ukraine must change as well,” added the UK defense secretary. The promised multiple-barrel rocket launchers should improve the protection of Ukrainians “against the brutal use of long-range artillery that Putin’s troops have used indiscriminately to flatten cities”.
The United States announced on Wednesday that it would provide Ukraine with four Himar-type multiple rocket launchers. Assistant Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl said Ukraine’s armed forces would need about three weeks of training to deploy the missile system. This should give the Ukrainians a greater range and precision in the artillery battles in the east of the country.
According to Kahl, the rocket launchers can fire six guided missiles at a time over 70 kilometers. Accordingly, the systems are already available in Europe for training and delivery. They would help Ukrainian forces locate and attack strategic Russian targets, he said.
He confirmed that Zelenskyi had assured Washington that the Himars, short for “High Mobility Artillery Rocket System”, would not be used to attack targets in Russia. “President Biden has made it clear that we have no intention of entering into a direct conflict with Russia,” emphasized Kahl.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had previously warned Washington not to “deliberately pour fuel on the fire”. “Such deliveries do not encourage the Ukrainian leadership to want to resume peace talks,” Peskov said in Moscow.
At the beginning of June, the German government also announced that it would make four multiple rocket launchers available to Ukraine. According to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), the Mars II system from the Bundeswehr stocks, which it has been using since 1990, should be delivered by the end of June if possible. Depending on the ammunition, Mars II can hit targets up to 40 kilometers away.
In the interview, Putin appeared calm about the Himars delivery announced by the United States. For Ukraine, this will not change anything fundamental in the distribution of power. “There is nothing new here,” said the Russian President. The Ukrainian armed forces are already using such Russian-made systems.
The political scientist at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, Frank Sauer, had explained in the Tagesspiegel with regard to Western weapons that this type of ammunition could “shoot further and more precisely” than that of the Russian armed forces. In terms of precision, the Western devices would have advantages. “The Himars multiple artillery has about twice the range one would expect from a powerful barreled artillery such as the German Panzerhaubitze 2000, and many times longer than the M777 howitzers that the Americans have supplied in large numbers to Ukraine.” , Sauer explained further.
Putin went on to say in the TV interview that the new systems would only replace weapons that had been destroyed. The picture is similar with the artillery ordered by Ukraine in the west. “To all appearances, this is also about making up for what was lost, what was destroyed in the fighting.”
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Russia had already announced a few weeks ago that the focus of military operations in Ukraine would now also be to track down and destroy military goods delivered from the West. Since then, there have been repeated reports from the Russian Defense Ministry, some of which were quite detailed, that western shipments of arms and other military assets had been destroyed.