US Leans To Send Powerful Multiple Launch Rockets As Ukraine Seeks ‘Heavy Weapons’ To Halt Russia’s Donbas Offensive

Near Kherson, UkraineUkraineUkrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba issued an urgent request Thursday night for Western leaders to send his country more “heavy weapons” to help Ukrainian forces counter a powerful Russian offensive in the eastern region. from Donbass.

“The only position where Russia is better than us is in the number of heavy weapons they have,” Kuleba said in his video appeal. “Without artillery, without multiple rocket launch systems, we won’t be able to push them back.”

Kuleba said the situation in Donbas was “even worse than people are saying,” pleading with Western allies with a repeated plea: “If you really care about Ukraine, guns, guns, guns again.”

Apparently, the calls from Kyiv were heard in Washington, where a Biden administration official told CBS News Senior National Security Correspondent David Martin that the White House was leaning toward providing multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS). ) to Ukraine as part of the next package of military measures. help for the country.

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A promotional photo shows one of Lockheed Martin’s “High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems” (HIMARS) in use.

Lockheed Martin


No final decision has been made in Washington, the officials told CBS News, but if the Biden administration commits to providing MLRS to Ukraine, they said it would likely be weapons known as HIMARS, made by Lockheed Martin, that would provide a range a slightly longer and significantly more pungent than the 155mm howitzers the US is currently providing. The highly portable HIMARS can fire six rounds at a time, unlike single-shot howitzers, and the rockets themselves are considerably larger than howitzer rounds, at 277mm.

Ukrainian troops already rely heavily on US-supplied howitzers as they try to stop Russia’s advance on villages around two major cities in Donbas, Ukraine’s longtime industrial heartland that is now in great part under Russian control.

Some of the latest videos to emerge from the war-torn nation show Russia shelling Ukrainian positions with next-generation warheads known as vacuum bombs. Russia’s overwhelming artillery advantage has allowed its forces to capture more territory in Donbas this week.

CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab says the city of Popasna is a stark example of what a Russian “victory” in Ukraine looks like. The city is just over 10 miles south of the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which Russia is trying to capture. Popasna was recently taken over by pro-Russian troops and is now in ruins, with the remains of the dead still lying in the streets.

Tyab says that Moscow is releasing almost all of its firepower in efforts to consolidate control of the entire Donbas, with thousands of Russian troops attacking from three sides.

Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine - vector map
A map shows the Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

Getty/iStockphoto


If Severodonetsk and Lysychansk fall, almost the entire Luhansk province, which makes up about half of Donbas, would be under Russian control.

But the Ukrainian forces Tyab and his team have assembled this week say they won’t go down without a fight, and American howitzers are a big part of how they hope to turn the tide against Russia. American-made artillery pieces shoot farther, move faster and can be hidden much more easily than other weapons already at the disposal of the Ukrainians.

The Ukrainians currently have about 85 of the 108 howitzers promised by the Biden administration.


US trains Ukrainians with howitzer artillery

02:02

“The more howitzers we have, the easier it will be to fight the Russians,” Lt. Col. Serhii Zayika, the lead trainer for Ukrainian forces using the weapons near the southern city of Kherson, told CBS News.

It was the howitzer that helped Ukrainian troops push back Russian forces shelling a small town near Kherson. forcing Tyab and his team to duck for cover with soldiers near the front lines earlier this week.


On the war front in Ukraine

02:59

It’s an agile yet powerful weapon against Russia’s advancing military, but it’s clear Ukraine wants more of it, and even more deadly firepower as its forces face off against the mounting Russian offensive.

On Friday it looked as if Kyiv’s wish might come true, but it was unclear when the US’s multiple rocket launch systems might actually arrive, or if they would arrive soon enough to help Ukraine’s defenders prevent Russia from take the two big cities in Donbas.

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