Ukraine uses weapons from the West to strike deep within Russian-controlled areas

Crucial to this effort has been the arrival of new long-range weapons systems and artillery units. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KYIV (NYTIMES) - As Russian forces continue pounding civilian areas across a broad swathe of the front line, Ukraine's military has begun to punch back, striking bases and ammunition depots deep within occupied territory with the help of new, more powerful weapons provided by the West.

Early on Wednesday (July 13), a fireball lit up the sky over Luhansk, the capital of a Russian-held province in eastern Ukraine. Russian media reported that Ukraine's military had hit an anti-aircraft battery.

That followed the destruction of six ammunition warehouses on Tuesday in Russian-controlled territory in southern Ukraine and the occupied Donetsk region in the east, according to Serhii Bratchuk, the spokesperson for Odesa's military administration.

This latest strategy by Ukrainian forces is still in its early days, and it is not yet clear whether it is having a significant impact on the battlefield, allowing them to disrupt Russia's own artillery attacks and offensive operations. Some Ukrainian officials argue that the Russians are being forced to move supply hubs farther from the front, a claim that could not be verified.

"The Russian army has not stopped shelling, but it is likely preserving its existing supplies of ammunition because these provisions have been disrupted by the work of our new long-range weapons," said Serhiy Haidai, the head of the Luhansk region's military administration.

Crucial to this effort has been the arrival of new long-range weapons systems and artillery units, particularly the truck-mounted, multiple rocket launchers known as High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems or HIMARS.

US-supplied HIMARS, which began arriving in Ukraine earlier this summer, are proving effective at targeting Russian military bases and ammunition supply depots far behind enemy lines. The systems are equipped with satellite-guided rockets, whose range of more than 64km is greater than anything else Ukrainian troops have in their arsenal.

Ukrainian officials said a strike by HIMARS rockets last week on a military base and ammunition depot in the Kherson region used by Russia's 49th army killed as many as 100 Russian servicemen and wiped out an anti-aircraft installation.

"It is wrong to celebrate the deaths of people, even if they are enemies," said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. "But you can celebrate the military successes of our army."

It was not possible to independently confirm the Ukrainian claims and officials with the local Russian-backed government disputed the report. They said the strike had actually destroyed homes and businesses, killing several civilians.

Footage from the area by local residents, as well as Russian television, shows a wasteland of twisted metal and buildings reduced to rubble.

"Ukraine, with American weapons, is bombing a peaceful city like a genuine terrorist," said Katerina Gubareva, the deputy head of the Russia-installed government in the Kherson region.

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