Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s accounts of Russian forces destroying US-made systems “patently false,” DoD spokesman says
Claims by Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu about Russian troops having destroyed six US-made M142 HIMARS rocket systems in Ukraine since the start of Russia’s offensive there are untrue, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
“We are aware of these latest claims by Minister Shoigu and they are patently false,” said the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and the Pentagon’s acting spokesman Todd Breasseale, as quoted by Reuters.
According to him, all HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) are “fully accounted for” and the Ukrainians are employing them “with devastating accuracy and effectiveness.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Shoigu said Russia had destroyed six HIMARS systems along with dozens of other American-made weapon systems supplied to Ukraine. The US has sent 16 HIMARS to Kiev in total.
The system is described as a ‘game-changer’ by both Ukrainian officials and numerous Western sources due to its accuracy and long range. HIMARS can fire several types of missiles, including the GMLRS 80-kilometer-range guided rockets, which have been supplied to Ukraine, as well as the ATAMCS ballistic missiles able to hit targets 300 kilometers away.
The spokesman for the army of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Eduard Basurin, claimed in mid-July Ukrainian forces may have already received ATAMCS. However, days later, national security adviser to the White House Jake Sullivan said the US wasn’t ready to supply the missiles to Ukraine, out of fear they could be used to strike Russian territory, leading to an escalation in the conflict.
Moscow maintains HIMARS systems have repeatedly been used by Kiev forces to target facilities that were not legitimate military targets. The most recent example of such tactics, according to the Russian military, was an attack on a penal colony in Elenovka in the DPR, which was housing Ukrainian POWs, including fighters with the notorious neo-Nazi Azov regiment. The attack left at least 50 prisoners dead and another 73 injured. Ukraine blames Russia for this strike.