Ukraine Situation Report: HIMARS Shown Being Stashed In ‘Soviet Bunker’

Ukraine on Wednesday combined two of its most effective weapons – U.S.-donated M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS,  and its own top-notch information warfare operation – to taunt Russian troops.

In a high-octane video tweeted out by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, a masked soldier calling himself Capt. HIMARS mocks Russia’s repeated claims that it has destroyed many HIMARS.

As of January, the Russian MoD claimed it destroyed 27 HIMARS. This is despite the fact that, as of today, only 18 of 38 HIMARS promised by the U.S. had been delivered, the Pentagon told us. The remainder will be procured through Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funding and contracting. The Pentagon is not aware of any HIMARS that have been destroyed, a U.S. defense official told The War Zone Wednesday.

The video opens with the soldier standing in front of a HIMARS launching its vaunted Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) munitions from an undisclosed location. These munitions, which can reach up to about 50 miles, have proven a game-changer for Ukraine as it has been able to conduct deep strikes on Russian logistics and supply hubs far beyond the front lines.

“Capt. HIMARS” in front of an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launching munitions. (Ukraine MoD screencap)

Standing amid a cloud of rocket exhaust and flying debris, he delivers an ominous message in a computer-altered voice.

“Russian soldier! My name is Capt. HIMARS. I stand by my words. I don’t strike the barracks in sectors from where I get coordinates for armored vehicles and ammo depots.”

The video then cuts to the soldier standing inside what appears to be a shelter with circular metal-ribbed support beams, as he waves a HIMARS launcher inside and continues his message.

“Capt. HIMARS” waiving the HIMARS into a Soviet-era bunker. (Ukraine MoD screencap)

“You’re constantly being lied to that there are barely any HIMARS left. Take a look at the conditions under which we store HIMARS. These are military facilities built during the Soviet Union period. They can even withstand nuclear strikes. Since the beginning of the war, not a single HIMARS system has been destroyed.”

The video then cuts to the soldier standing back outside as a HIMARS system prepares to fire.

“Russian soldier!” he says. “Keep sending me target coordinates so that death does not fall down from the skies on you.”

He then puts the walkie-talkie he is carrying up to his mouth.

“Fire!” he says.

(Ukraine MoD screencap)

The video then cuts to the HIMARS launching a GMLRS.

The video includes an email address for Capt. HIMARS.

We reached out to him to see if he could tell us more about the bunkers and whether he has any concerns about operational security given that Russia would likely know where old Soviet bunkers are located.

We will update this story if he responds.

Before we head into the latest updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.

The Latest

A Russian attack on Kherson Wednesday killed 21 and wounded another 48, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on his Telegram channel.

“A railway station and a crossing, a house, a hardware store, a grocery supermarket, a gas station – do you know what unites these places? The bloody trail that Russia leaves with its shells, killing civilians in Kherson and Kherson region.”

There were several Russian claims of drone strikes against their interests Wednesday, including on the Kremlin. Ukrainian officials pushed back on that assertion. You can read more about it in our story here.

On the battlefield, Yevgeny Prighozin, the capo di tutti capi of the Wagner mercenary group, claimed in audio posted on his Telegram channel that the long-expected Ukrainian offensive is already underway.

Prigozhin said that the “active phase” of the counteroffensive would begin in the coming days, Reuters reported.

“I believe the advance of the Ukrainian Army has already begun … We are seeing the greatest possible activity both on the perimeter and within the front lines,” Prigozhin said.

“I therefore believe that it has all already started. And I believe it will all enter an active phase in the very near future. It could be a matter of days.”

The War Zone could not confirm Prigozhin’s claims.

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin says Ukraine’s offensive is underway. (Photo by Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

To aid Ukraine’s efforts to defeat Russia, the Pentagon on Wednesday officially announced its latest tranche of military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, a package valued at up to $300 million that for the first time includes air-launched unguided Hydra 70mm (2.75-inch) rockets.

The other capabilities in this 37th Presidential Drawdown Authority Package include:

  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS);
  • 155mm Howitzers; 
  • 155mm artillery rounds;
  • 120mm, 81mm, and 60mm mortar rounds;
  • Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles;
  • AT-4 and Carl Gustaf anti-armor weapon systems; 
  • Small arms and small arms ammunition; 
  • Demolition munitions for obstacle clearing;
  • Trucks and trailers to transport heavy equipment; 
  • Testing and diagnostic equipment to support vehicle maintenance and repair;
  • Spare parts and other field equipment.

Speaking of U.S. weapons donations, it appears the M109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzers are now in Ukraine, according to the Ukraine Weapons Tracker OSINT group. The Pentagon announced the first donation of 18 Paladins back in January as part of a Presidential Drawdown Authority tranche of aid.

The European Union (EU) on Wednesday moved ahead with plans to buy urgently needed artillery shells for Ukraine as well as ramping up the bloc’s ability to produce munitions, Reuters reported.

EU nation ambassadors agreed on details of a 1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) effort to jointly buy ammunition for Ukraine after weeks of wrangling that had frustrated leaders in Kyiv.

Meanwhile, the European Commission, the EU’s executive, launched a plan to use more than $553 million to help European arms firms boost capacity by upgrading equipment, opening production lines and training staff.

But Ukraine isn’t getting everything it asks for. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that his country won’t give Ukraine any of its 62 F/A-18C/D multirole fighter jets. Zelensky was in Finland on an unannounced visit with Nordic leaders.

“We have Hornet fighters, which are quite old” and should be replaced by new planes, Niinisto said during a joint press conference, according to the Interfax news agency.

“Because we need strong protection,” Niinisto said.

Finland must first receive the F-35 fighters it has already ordered before it can decommission its current aircraft fleet, Niinisto said. “We could not give up the Hornets before we get the new ones, and unfortunately the Hornets at that time practically finished,” he said.

Hornets could potentially be sourced from other countries though, as we discussed in-depth recently.

Ukraine asked Finland to donate some of its F-18 Hornets. (@RobinNoakPhotos via the Finnish Air Force) Ukraine asked Finland to donate some of its F-18 Hornets. (@RobinNoakPhotos via the Finnish Air Force)

Still, Zelensky said he is convinced Western allies will provide more modern combat aircraft after the looming offensive is shown to be a success.

“Why am I sure we will get aircraft?” Zelensky said during the press conference. “Because soon we will have offensive actions. And after them, I am sure we will be given aircraft.”

Zelensky also said that Ukraine expects clear signals from NATO in support of Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance.

“We will not be in NATO as long as the war continues. We are clearly aware of this. But we would like our partners to make powerful steps towards us, in addition to the ‘open doors’, that would motivate Ukrainian society. We would like support today.”

An important manifestation of NATO’s political support for Ukraine, he added, should be the provision of effective security guarantees on the path to membership in the Alliance.

“On this path, while we have a war going on, we need security guarantees today, while we are not yet in NATO,” Zelensky said. “But in any case, our goal is to achieve full membership in the Alliance.”

Zelensky apparently traveled to Finland via a U.S. Air Force C-40B transport, according to OSINT trackers. We reached out to the Air Force for more details and will update this story with any information provided. You can read more about these aircraft, a 737 variant, in our story here.

The brutality of war is vividly captured in this video produced by Ukraine’s 3rd Separate Assault Brigade as it attacks Russian troops.

Ukraine’s Air Force claims that the German-donated German-made IRIS-T air defense system has destroyed more than 60 targets since October. Germany earlier this week announced that it has delivered a second IRIS-T system to Ukraine as part of its ongoing aid to Kyiv.

The battle for Bahkmut has imposed tremendous costs on both sides in terms of personnel and equipment. Several Ukrainian armored vehicles, including a T-64BV tank, are seen destroyed in this video below.

And finally, the Kyiv Post had some fun with today’s incident at the Kremlin, playing off a postage stamp Ukraine released depicting the infamous invective uttered by Ukrainian Border Guards responding to a demand from the crew of the Moskva to surrender on Snake Island with the defiant retort “Russian warship, go fuck yourself!” 

That’s all for now. We will update this story when we have more news to report about Ukraine.

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