Ukraine’s Defense Minister Says It Has ‘Passed Test’ on New U.S. Guided Rockets, Needs More

Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukraine’s defense minister said his country “passed the test” with the successful deployment of recently delivered American long-range artillery systems, but stressed that the high rate of attrition along its extensive front line is spurring demand for additional supplies, such as armored ones Vehicles and drones, more urgent.

Oleksii Reznikov said that the need for longer-range weapons continues to outpace Ukrainians’ demand for shorter-range systems as the war shifts primarily to an artillery battle, and more is needed if they want to retake areas lost since Russia’s invasion lost on February 24th. 24

“We have to refresh and change and replace our trains, also because we also have a lot of losses,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “We are waiting for more armor, more weapons from our partners. We need to rebuild some directions, rebuild our fortifications, and plan a new operational strategy.”

Rescue workers on rubble in Chasiv Yar, in a photo released by Ukraine’s State Emergency Medical Service on Sunday.


Photo:

State Emergency Service of Ukraine/Shutterstock

He said the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, the long-range launchers known as Himars, were a “game changer” allowing Ukraine to attack Russian forces in the northeastern city of Izyum, but added: “The war is grim . .. we need more. We need it fast.”

After initial hesitation over concerns that the systems could be used by Ukrainian forces against Russian territory, drawing the US reluctantly into the fray, Washington said it would first send four Himars to Ukraine and train Ukrainian forces to use them. These advanced systems are mobile launchers capable of hitting targets from a maximum range of around 60 kilometers to almost 500 kilometers, depending on the type of ammunition used.

Russian officials have slammed the US decision to deliver Himars, saying Washington is adding fuel to the fire and threatening to react if the systems are used to attack Russian territory.

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An injured woman received medical treatment in Konstantinovka on Saturday after a military strike.


Photo:

Emanuele Satolli for the Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian and US officials said Ukraine also used US-supplied Harpoon missiles to take out a Russian supply ship in the Black Sea – key to its ability to retake the strategic Snake Island.

“We had to convince them, give them evidence,” said Mr. Reznikov. “In the Izyum case, we were precise [in targeting] a Russian command center for air operations. It was really accurate. Our partners saw it and said, ‘You passed the test.’”

Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbass region have been outgunned and outnumbered by Russian forces, which have made incremental progress in capturing territories in recent weeks. Ukraine is urging its allies to provide even longer-range missiles that can be used with Himars, known as the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, with a range of up to 300 kilometers. Washington has not agreed so far.

“The Russians use their MLRS, which can fly 120 kilometers,” Mr. Reznikov said, referring to Russian-made multiple launch rocket systems. “So we need something longer: 150 [kilometers]. We’ll get there.”

In addition to long-range weapons, Mr Reznikov’s wish-list includes more armed vehicles, including tanks, as well as more unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, especially as Ukraine ramps up its naval operations to combat Russian ships currently stationed in the Black Sea, responsible for a blockade that is being carried out prevents Ukraine’s important grain stocks from reaching the world market.

He said drones, including those sent by the US and other partners, are constantly being jammed by Russia and don’t have the counter-jamming software needed to get the upper hand.

This month, the Pentagon announced $820 million in new military aid to Ukraine, which includes advanced medium- and long-range air defense systems and counter-artillery radars, to respond to Russia’s heavy use of long-range strikes in the war. Mr Reznikov described the US-supplied National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, capable of hitting targets 100 miles away, as Ukraine’s “next Easter cake”.

However, since Nasams batteries can only cover one city or object, Mr Renizkov said it was important to combine them with alternative modern air defense systems pledged by other Western partners.

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A school building visible through a window was damaged in a Russian military strike in Kharkiv on Sunday.


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STRINGER/REUTERS

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A woman was standing in front of a house in Konstantinowka on Saturday shortly after the cluster munitions hit.


Photo:

Emanuele Satolli for the Wall Street Journal

He said shorter-range missiles that were once crucial to combat — like the US-made FGM-148 Javelin missile system, the UK-made NLAW, or the MILAN-2 anti-tank systems from France and Italy — are still needed will. but “no longer the priority” given the changing nature of the conflict towards long-range artillery warfare.

Mr Reznikov said Russia appeared to be taking an “operational pause” in its Donbass offensive, which consists of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to regroup and resupply. He said that this is not necessarily an opportunity for the Ukrainian armed forces, which need rest and need to exchange combat units and supplies.

On Saturday night, Russian forces demolished an apartment building in Khasiv Yar in the Donetsk region, in a strike that left 15 dead and five wounded, according to Ukraine’s emergency services. The Russian Defense Ministry said in its evening update on Saturday that its forces had hit a weapons depot in the city.

Elsewhere, near the village of Konstantinovka, Russian missiles hit a makeshift shelter used by the Ukrainian military, collapsing part of a five-story brick building where rescuers spent the day digging for survivors. Local officials said at least 15 people have been confirmed dead and another 24 have yet to be reached under the rubble.

Lugansk regional governor Serhiy Haidai said this week that the recently captured cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are still reeling as thousands of civilians now live under Russian occupation. He said more than 300,000 people left the Luhansk region alone.

In the northeastern Kharkiv region, Russian forces fired rockets at Osnovyansk and Slobodsky districts on Sunday, destroying a school and hitting several residential buildings. Shelling also continued in Izyum, Bogodukhov, Chuguev and the city of Kharkiv, the region’s governor Oleh Synyehubov said on his official Telegram channel.

Mr Synyehubov called on residents to be vigilant, noting that Kharkiv’s “neighbor”, Russia, is indiscriminately firing at the region.

Describing the battle in Kharkiv as a problem for Ukraine, Mr Reznikov said its location along the border has allowed Russian forces to fire long-range systems at the region from Russian soil, often at the expense of civilian and residential areas.

“That’s a problem,” he said. “Our missile defense systems can fight with their ballistic and cruise missiles – it’s not 100%, but we can get them. But we cannot close the sky against their MLRS.”

write to Vivian Salama at vivian.salama@wsj.com

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