Ukraine Disputes Russia’s Proofless Claim It Destroyed HIMARS Launchers

Russian claims that it destroyed two U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, in eastern Ukraine are not substantiated and Ukraine is outright calling them a lie.

“High-precision air-based missiles have destroyed 2 US-made HIMARS multiple-launch rocket launchers and 2 ammunition depots near Malotaranovka in Donetsk People’s Republic,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said Wednesday morning on its Telegram channel.

Screenshot from a Russian Ministry of Defense video claiming to show the destruction of two Ukrainian HIMARS batteries provided by the U.S. Via Twitter

As ‘proof’ it distributed a video that shows a Russian aircraft firing what appears to be missiles at a target on the ground. The video then depicts a plume after an impact along a treed area seen through an infrared imager. Another infrared video shows missiles of some sort striking an area near an industrial park or farm followed by a plume. It then cuts to what appears to be drone video of the moment of impact in a different tree-lined area.

However, that video does not appear to contain any proof that a HIMARS was hit, as observers on Twitter pointed out.

It’s also important to note that there are not even any secondary ignitions that one would expect from hitting a rocket launcher if it was loaded or munitions were nearby.

Ukraine’s General Staff, not surprisingly, called foul.

“WARNING! RUSSIAN FAKE,” it said in a tweet. “Russian propagandists are actively spreading false reports about the alleged destruction of the American HIMARS artillery system. We emphasize that these messages do not correspond to reality and are nothing more than another Russian fake.”

Puffing up battlefield success is nothing new for either side in this conflict. The so-called “Ghost of Kyiv” Ukrainian pilot, for instance, was claimed by Ukraine to have shot down multiple Russian combat aircraft, something we wrote about before. But the Ukrainian Air Force eventually fessed up, saying he never existed.

Russian combat victory claims, meanwhile, seemingly add up to far more equipment and personnel than the Ukrainians actually have, according to Proekt Media, an independent Russian investigative reporting organization.

There’s very good reason for the Russians wanting to destroy the HIMARS, or at least have people believing they did.

The systems give outgunned Ukrainians a precision long-range artillery capability they didn’t have before.

The four already delivered to Ukraine – plus M30/M31 Guided Multiple-Launch Rocket Systems munitions with a range of about 43 miles – have been quite effective so far, according to the Pentagon. Another four launchers are promised, along with tracked multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) from other countries that can also employ GMLRS munitions.

“We’re watching Ukraine’s use of the HIMARS and we’re seeing them having a good deal of success in employing these…to include things like targeting command posts, so this is a very positive development in the east,” a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters July 1.

“The system has just recently been introduced, so the Ukrainians are still very much in the early days of operating this system. But what I can tell you is because it is such a precise, longer-range system, the Ukrainians are able to carefully select targets that will undermine the effort by Russia in a more systematic way. Certainly more than they would be able to do with the shorter range artillery systems.”

As of Wednesday morning, the Pentagon declined to comment on Wednesday’s Russian HIMARS destruction claims. If that changes, we will let you know.

Given the brutal nature of war and Russia’s use of massive long-range fires, it’s likely that one day, it might actually hit a HIMARS.

But it would seem that there is no prood that today is that day.

Contact the author: