War between Ukraine and Russia: live updates during Putin’s visit to Iran

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The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Tuesday that new long-range artillery systems supplied by the United States are helping to “stabilize” the country’s defenses. By contrast, Russia’s defense minister on Monday ordered his forces to make finding and destroying weapons a “priority”.

The two estimates are wildly at odds, but they point to the same conclusion: Highly Mobile Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, the weapon first deployed in late June, make a mark on the battlefield in favor of Kyiv.

Russian forces have been reluctant to talk about failures since their invasion began in February, but Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s order is a tacit acknowledgment of the effectiveness of the weapons, the most advanced of any Western nation, supplied to President Volodymyr Zelensky. government after Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February.

Twelve missile systems have been delivered in recent weeks, and since then Ukraine has reported a series of attacks on Russian ammunition depots deep behind the front lines, often coupled with videos posted on social media of massive explosions and plumes of flame and smoke.

Ukrainian military leader Gen. Valery Zalyzhny said the weapon was an “important factor” in stabilizing the country’s defensive lines, and stated that it carried out “precise strikes against enemy command posts, ammunition depots and fuel depots.”

These weapons, whose satellite-guided missiles have a range of more than 40 miles, have allowed Ukraine to target critical Russian command and logistics centers in a move that some military analysts say could undermine Russia’s ability to deploy its main advantage, namely its long-range superiority. artillery. .

Moscow’s advantage in artillery allowed it to move slowly and bloodily through the eastern Donbass in the spring and early summer. But since Russian troops captured the last major city in the Lugansk region, Lisichansk, earlier this month, they have made little headway.

Gene. Shoigu, speaking during the inspection of the Russian armed forces stationed in Ukraine, instructed the Russian commander to make it a “priority” to defeat the enemy’s long-range precision-guided rocket and artillery weapons,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Although military analysts have warned that no single weapon system can turn the tide of war, there is some evidence that HIMARS is already having an impact on the battlefield. A senior US military official said the weapons were “Significant influence.”

Philips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at St. Louis. Andrews University, citing HIMARS, said that “there are indications that they have limited the amount of concentrated fire of Russian artillery.”

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Russian forces have two options to counter the threat. First, destroy the missile systems themselves, which Moscow claims to have done twice in recent weeks, although it has provided no evidence to support its claims, and the Ukrainians say they are false. Second, to move or disperse their stocks of ammunition and other critical equipment, making it difficult for HIMARS to hit concentrated targets.

Ukrainians have accused Russian forces of increasingly placing equipment near critical infrastructure and civilians. This could complicate any Ukrainian counteroffensive; such actions have already created problems as Ukraine sought to strike targets in the occupied parts of the country.

Ukraine’s armed forces said on Tuesday they had struck and caused a massive explosion at warehouses in Novaya Kakhovka in the Kherson region, which Moscow seized in March. The city on the Dnipro River sits next to a dam and a hydroelectric power plant, important infrastructure that could theoretically keep Ukrainian forces from wanting to attack.

According to military analyst Michael Kofman, the ultimate test of the new weapon is whether it will help Ukraine launch a successful counteroffensive to retake territory.