Ukraine defence minister says US long-range rocket systems arrive, as Russian forces continue to advance in the eastern Donbas region.
Ukraine says it has taken delivery of US supplies of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), a powerful long-range weapon system that Kyiv hopes can help turn the tide on Russia’s invasion.
“HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine. Thank you to my colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools! Summer will be hot for russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them,” Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
He did not say how many of the systems had arrived.
HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine.
Thank you to my 🇺🇲 colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools!
Summer will be hot for russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them. pic.twitter.com/BTmwadthpp
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) June 23, 2022
The announcement came as Moscow’s forces advanced in Ukraine’s east in a bid to capture the industrial heartland known as the Donbas, where Ukraine fears some of its troops could be encircled in a Russian pincer.
Ukraine has said it needs the HIMARS systems to better match the range of Russian rocket systems that it has said are being extensively used to pummel Ukrainian positions in the Donbas.
Washington said it has received assurances from Kyiv that those longer-range weapons would not be used to attack Russian territory, amid fears of an escalation of the conflict.
While the West has sent weapons into Ukraine to help it fight the Kremlin’s forces, Kyiv has complained it has only received a fraction of what it needs and is clamouring for heavier weaponry.
Moscow has warned it will attack targets in Ukraine that they “have not yet been hitting” if the West supplies longer-range missiles to Ukraine for use in high-precision mobile rocket systems.