A US M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) fires salvoes during the second annual "African Lion" military exercise in the Tan-Tan region in southwestern Morocco on June 30, 2022. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)

In recent weeks, neither Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky nor his controversial ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk have tired of pointing out what is needed to defend their country against the Russian invasion: heavy arms deliveries from the West. Only they would substantially improve the situation of the Ukrainian troops in the war of attrition in the Donbass region. Experts also continue to see Russia at an advantage in terms of available artillery.

The immense strategic importance of modern weapon systems for Ukrainian warfare is shown by the destruction of Russian ammunition depots by the multiple rocket launcher Himars (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System). The USA has now delivered a total of four of these precise and fast-moving systems to Ukraine. The M30/M31 precision rockets fired from there have a range of up to 80 kilometers.

As the analysts of the American military think tank ISW write in a recent briefing, Russian ammunition depots in the cities of Dibrovne, Snizhne and Melitopol were destroyed by Himar’s attacks. According to the Kyiv Independent portal, 20 Russian depots have been hit or completely destroyed in the past four weeks. Most of them in the hard-fought Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, but also four of them around the port city of Cherson in the south-east on the Black Sea. Various videos on “Twitter” document the power and extent of the destruction caused by Ukrainian rocket attacks.

In addition to the ammunition depots, Ukrainian missiles also hit a railway bridge in the city of Kupyansk, almost 120 kilometers southwest of the city of Kharkiv, as well as other railway connections. On July 4, Himar missiles also hit a Russian military base near Melitopol

Interestingly, the targets were deep in Russian-occupied territory. With the weapon system, the Ukrainian army is able to shift the war far behind the actual front line and spread terror there.

For the Russian leadership, the horror stems above all from the massive disruption to its war logistics. British military expert Jack Watling told Der Spiegel in an interview that Russia will have unguided artillery ammunition for years to come. “The risk lies in their logistics,” he describes a key weakness in the Russian plans for conquest. The renowned military expert Phillips O’Brien analyzes on “Twitter” that the methodical destruction of ammunition dumps and rail links would make it increasingly difficult for Russian troops to advance further.

This is where the importance of modern weapon systems like Himars becomes clear. Only they enable Ukraine to cut off the Russian supply of ammunition through targeted attacks on sensitive infrastructure points such as depots and loading stations. The Russian advantage in artillery could be massively reduced in this way, and experts believe that it might even be offset by further deliveries of weapons from the West. This would at least slow down the Russian advance considerably.

The hits by Himars apparently left their mark on the Russian side. The Kyiv Independent, citing Russian military bloggers, says the “unpunished” Ukrainian attacks have prompted Russia’s troops to be much more considerate in their artillery strikes in view of a possible shortage of ammunition. On the Russian side, a constantly growing hunger for ammunition can also be observed, the news portal continues.

A good three weeks ago, it became clear once again that the USA in particular is aware of its central role as an arms supplier – and thus indirectly as a power decisive in the war. At that time, the US government promised Ukraine arms sales worth one billion US dollars.

It was said at the time that howitzers, launchers for anti-ship missiles and mobile rocket artillery, on which Ukrainian soldiers were already being trained, were to be delivered. The example of the destroyed ammunition depots makes the massive influence they exert on the front more than clear.