Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said his country has “passed the test” and successfully used recently delivered American long-range guided rockets. However, he said, the loss of able-bodied soldiers on the frontlines has made the demand for more long-range systems, drones and armored vehicles more pressing.
As the war shifts into primarily an artillery battle, the need for more long-range weapons will outpace the demand for shorter-range systems; more will be needed if Ukraine is to recapture territory lost to Russia, Reznikov told The Wall Street Journal.
“We need to refresh our platoons and change them and make replacements also because we also have a lot of losses,” Reznikov added. “We are waiting for more armor, more weaponry from our partners. We need to rebuild some directions and to refresh our fortifications and plan a new operational strategy.”
The Ukrainian defense minister highlighted the American-issued M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or long-range guided rocket launchers nicknamed Himars, have been a “game changer,” allowing Ukraine to strike Russian forces situated in the northeastern town of Izyum. But, he noted, “The war is grim… We need more. We need it quickly.”
Washington said it would issue four Himars to Ukraine despite earlier hesitation and concerns that the United States would be drawn into the conflict if the systems were used to target Russian territory. The systems are mobile launchers capable of hitting targets 60 to 500 kilometers away, depending on the type of rocket used.
Russian officials have criticized the United States’ decision to supply the Himars, warning if Ukraine attacked Russian territory, it would be the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a fire.
Ukrainian and U.S. officials also noted that Ukraine used U.S.-supplied Harpoon missiles to strike a Russian supply ship in the Black Sea, which was key in Ukrainian forces’ effort to recapture the strategic Snake Island.
“We needed to persuade them,” Reznikov said, “to show them proof. In the Izyum case, we were precise [in targeting] a Russian command center for aerial operations. It was really precise. Our partners saw it and said, ‘You passed the test.'”
In July, the Pentagon announced $820 million in new military aid to Ukraine, which would include “mid- to long-range air-defense systems and counter-artillery radars to respond to Russia’s heavy use of long-range strikes in the war.”