Struggling to cope Putin backed into corner as exhausted forces grind to halt

Ukraine: Footage appears to show HIMARS strike in Brylivka

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Dr Sidharth Kaushal said the US-built system has “definitely impacted the course of the war” – with Ukraine’s defence ministry claiming it has already killed numerous high-ranking Russian military personnel since it was first deployed in June. HIMARS, standing for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, is a lighter version of the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

HIMARS has definitely impacted the course of the war

Dr Sidharth Kaushal

It can be fitted either with six Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets or one Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile, with a maximum range of 185 miles.

Dr Kaushal, a Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told “HIMARS has definitely impacted the course of the war by enabling the Ukrainians to target Russian artillery depots and slow the tempo at which Russia has been able to conduct fire missions in the east.

“I probably wouldn’t go so far as to say its changed the course of the war – the pace of Russia’s advances, which have now ground to a halt, were slow for a number of reasons, including the exhaustion and depletion of their units and the difficult terrain.

“That said, HIMARS has undoubtedly contributed massively to this outcome by preventing the Russians to compensate for their lack of infantry through sheer firepower in the way they did in the initial phases of their advance through Donbas.”

”It does appear that Russia is struggling to cope with them.

As for Moscow’s response, Dr Kaushal suggested the initial one would simply be to try and move viable targets out of range – although in doing so Russia would extend its supply lines.

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He added: “It’s likely that they will field more short ranged C-RAM systems like the Pantsir.

“Priority will also likely be given to the targeting of HIMARS and, given that the Russians have expended expensive missiles like the Iskander to strike tactical targets like an SA-11 battery.

“It’s not inconceivable that the Russians may allot disproportionately expensive strike munitions to target individual HIMARS.

“Finally, targeting stores of MLRS rockets will likely be a Russian priority to slow the rate of incoming MLRS fire. How effective any of these adaptations will be remains to be seen.”

Ukraine’s military has been bullish in recent weeks about the impact of its HIMARS onslaught, with Ivan Fedorov, the exiled mayor of the southern city of Melitopol, last week claiming more than 100 Russian soldiers had been killed in recent days.

However, Dr Kaushal said some reports should be taken with “a big pinch of salt”.

He said: “Ukrainian claims have been well in excess of western estimates and some of their casualty claims, if true, would be hard to square with the fact that the Russian army is capable of fighting at all.

“That said, the Russians have taken enormous casualties so the Ukrainian claims that the Russians have manpower problems are sound in principle, if not on the actual details.”

British-supplied weapons have also being utilised effectively by Ukrainian soldiers, Dr Kaushal pointed out.

He said: “Western anti-tank weapons like Javelin and NLAWS were very useful early in the conflict as an enabler for artillery.

“Effectively, they were used to stop tank columns on narrow roads and hold up advances in order to create the time for long range artillery like the Grad system to do much of the killing.

“As such, they have a symbiotic relationship with artillery where they play a blocking and canalising role and artillery does much of the killing.”

The inhabitants of two villages in southern Russia near the Ukrainian border were evacuated today after a nearby ammunition storage depot caught fire but no one was hurt, an official said.

Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region, said in a statement emergency services were investigating the cause of the fire near the settlements of Timonovo and Soloti, 15 km (9 miles) from Ukraine. He did not give details.

A popular Ukrainian news website posted a video it said showed a large ball of flame erupting from the base.

Russia on Tuesday blamed saboteurs for orchestrating a series of explosions at an ammunition depot in Russian-annexed Crimea, further to the south. Last week blasts ripped through a Crimean air base, which Moscow at the time said was caused by an accident.

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