Congressman gives update on HIMARS shipments to Kiev
The United States and its Western allies intend to provide Ukraine with additional 25-to-30 rocket systems, Adam Smith, the head of the Armed Forces Сommittee of the US House of Representatives, revealed on Saturday.
That will include both high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS) and multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) from the UK and some other countries, Smith said in an interview with Radio Liberty. The committee chair admitted that the number of weapons is lower than what Kiev had requested but offered assurance that the US and its partners will provide as much artillery and missiles for the systems as possible.
Smith made the announcement following his visit to Kiev last week, in which he and several other members of Congress met with Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Andrey Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff, said Sunday that the logistics of delivering the of ammunition for the Western MLRS is key for the effective use of the launchers “on various sectors of the front.”
Following the meeting with Zelensky, the American delegation issued a statement pledging to continue “to seek ways to support President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people as effectively as possible.”
Ahead of the gathering, the Ukrainian president wrote on Telegram that his country especially needs “HIMARS launcher systems, shells and unmanned aerial vehicles.”
Earlier in July, Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov said that Kiev needed about 50 HIMARS systems for effective defense, and a least 100 for “an effective counteroffensive.”
As of July 22, the US provided 16 HIMARS systems to Ukraine. Overall security assistance to the country since the launch of the Russian offensive in late February has amounted to $7.6 billion.
Last week, the Russian military claimed that in a period between July 5 and 20, it had destroyed four of the US-supplied systems in Ukraine. One US official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, insisted that no HIMARS launchers sent to Ukraine had been destroyed. Meanwhile, the government in Kiev has accused Moscow of spreading “misinformation” calculated to dissuade the West from sending Ukraine more weapons.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Ukraine has lost over 760 multiple-launch rocket systems and more than 3,100 artillery pieces since the beginning of Russia’s military operation.
Moscow has repeatedly warned the West against sending weapons to Kiev, saying that this would only prolong the conflict, increase the number of casualties and lead to long-term consequences.