Explosions at Russian ammunition depot were due to “sabotage,” says defense ministry

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is fired in an undisclosed location in Ukraine in this still image from June 24.
A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is fired in an undisclosed location in Ukraine in this still image from June 24. (Pavlo Narozhnyy/Reuters)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, are not having a “significant impact” on Russia’s war in Ukraine, despite reports that Kyiv is using them to target critical Russian military and logistic infrastructure in the country.

“Recently, HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems and long-range howitzers have been promoted by Westerners to the role of super weapons,” Shoigu told attendees at the Moscow ernational security conferenceConference on International Security.

“They (HIMARS) did not have a significant impact on the situation,” he said. “Russian weapons, however, confirmed their best qualities in battles.”

Ukrainian officials have previously said HIMARS and other multiple rocket systems are “affecting the course of the war” — a view shared by top US military personnel and diplomatic officials.

“The Ukrainians are effectively employing these HIMARS strikes against Russian command and control nodes, their logistic networks, their field artillery and air to find sites and many other targets,” Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told journalists in Washington in late July.

US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink told CNN on August 2 that it was clear that the weaponry provided by America, including the HIMARs, “have had an effect.”

HIMARS appear to have been used in a massive strike against a warehouse in the town of Nova Kakhovka in the southern Kherson region in July. The strike set off secondary explosions and caused widespread damage, according to satellite imagery reviewed by CNN. The imagery showed how precise the attack had been, leaving just one small crater.

In early August, the Pentagon announced an additional package of security assistance for Ukraine, which is being drawn from US stockpiles and includes 75,000 rounds of ammunition and an undisclosed amount of additional ammunition for the HIMARS.

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