U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday announced the United States will provide Ukraine with four more M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). The long-range weapons have been widely praised by various Ukrainian officials who have credited HIMARS with bolstering the country’s ability to fight against Russia.
Austin made the announcement during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. He noted that President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s troops have “effectively” used the HIMARS that they already possess and that the systems “have made such a difference on the battlefield.”
The additional HIMARS will bring Ukraine’s total to 16. Austin said President Joe Biden‘s administration will also soon be providing Ukraine with more munitions for the HIMARS, as well as “precision-guided artillery ammunition, tactical vehicles and other urgently needed support.”
Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Ukraine’s Luhansk region, told Newsweek last week that Russian invaders have been in “panic mode” since the introduction of HIMARS. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has also spoken highly of HIMARS, calling the long-range rocket systems “a game changer” in the war against Russia during a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal.
“We’ll continue to provide historic levels of security assistance to help Ukraine defend itself,” Austin said.
Austin noted that Ukraine has recently received M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) from the United Kingdom and that heavy weaponry from Germany is scheduled to arrive soon.
“Poland has also recently transferred three battalions of 155-millimeter self-propelled howitzers to Ukraine, which are already making a difference on the front lines,” Austin added. “The Ukrainian Armed Forces have repeatedly demonstrated their skill in operating HIMARS, M270s and 155-millimeter howitzers.”
A Ukrainian official announced on Friday that his country had received its first M270 MLRS. Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, tweeted that the self-propelled, multiple rocket launchers “will be good company for HIMARS on the battlefield.”
Pro-Kremlin voices have recently made public remarks about their concerns of Western weapons aiding Ukraine. Igor Girkin, a former Russian intelligence official who commanded pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine in 2014, wrote on Telegram about how Russia has suffered “large losses in both men and equipment” due to the use of weapons supplied by the West, according to The Moscow Times.
“The Russian air defense systems…turned out to be ineffective against massive strikes by HIMARS missiles,” Girkin said, per The Moscow Times.
Igor Korotchenko, a prominent Russian military expert, also recently discussed the impact heavy weaponry from Western allies has had in the war.
“The scale of additional Western arms deliveries will seriously complicate our success of conducting our special military operation,” Korotchenko said during an appearance on a Kremlin-run television station, according to translated subtitles on a tweet posted by Russian propaganda expert Julia Davis.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.