Ukraine hits Russian air defense battery in likely HIMARS attack: ISW

Ukrainian forces destroyed parts of an advanced Russian air defense battery across the border, likely using a US-donated High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), according to a new assessment.

Geographically localized images published on Monday show two destroyed launchers, plus a damaged command post, belonging to a Russian S-300 or S-400 air defense system near the city of Belgorod, US-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), said in his latest analysis.

Reports were widely circulated over the weekend that Kiev had used HIMARS to attack Belgorod, shortly after the US partially lifted restrictions on Ukraine using US-supplied weapons against internationally recognized Russian territory.

US President Joe Biden is giving the green light to Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory using some US-donated weapons to help Kiev fend off Moscow’s weeks-long offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region, US officials said last week.

HIMARS in Ukraine
Ukrainian troops watch as an M142 HIMARS launches a missile in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on May 18, 2023. Ukrainian forces destroyed parts of an advanced Russian air defense battery, probably using a US-donated High Mobility…

Serhii Mykhalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

The Russian air defense system was located about 60 kilometers from the front lines of the fighting in northern Kharkov, and another 12 miles from the regional capital Kharkiv City, the ISW noted. This is within the range of the Ukrainian-operated HIMARS, but other multiple missile systems cannot reach this range, the think tank said.

Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian military and the Russian Ministry of Defense via email for comment.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday during a visit to the Czech capital Prague that Ukraine had been asking for permission for weeks to use US-supplied weapons against troops in Russia after Moscow opened the new front in Kharkiv. The move, which followed similar signals from several other NATO leaders, was labeled by Moscow as an escalation of the conflict.

The Ukrainian region of Kharkiv borders Belgorod, a region that has felt the consequences of the more than two-year war in Ukraine. Russian officials regularly report drones over Belgorod and shelling from across the border. Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in several statements since early June that “air targets” had been shot down by air defenses covering the region, but gave no further details. A series of Ukrainian drones also targeted the region in recent days, he said.

According to the Pentagon, the US has so far supplied Ukraine with 40 HIMARS plus ammunition for the systems.

Kiev’s armed forces have been using HIMARS since the summer of 2022 and have praised the impact of the systems, which can be used to fire long-range missiles of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), also supplied by Washington. Kyiv cannot fire ATACMS missiles at Russia that would reach key strategic bases deep in several Russian regions, according to US rules.