Ukraine says it is ‘difficult to defeat Russia’ if the US does not provide long-range artillery

An adviser to the Ukrainian president said that “it is difficult to win a military victory” over Russia if the US does not provide long-range artillery.

“Weapons are essential to Ukraine’s fate and our independence,” Alexey Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in an interview on May 30.

According to the official, even a small number of weapons systems would be a “game changer” in the conflict with Russia, as it would allow the Ukrainian military to defend itself against long-range Russian attacks.

“If we don’t have multiple rocket launchers, we can still stabilize the front line, but we will take into account the loss of Kherson, Lugansk, Donetsk and territories in the Zaporizhzhia province,” the official stressed.

M270 rocket artillery complex of the US Army.  Photo: WATM.

M270 rocket artillery complex of the US Army. Image: WATM.

US officials said last week that they were reviewing Ukraine’s request for the supply of M270 multiple rocket launchers, which can hit targets up to 300 kilometers away, depending on the type of ammunition. However, equipping Ukraine with long-range artillery has raised concerns in the West that this weapon could be used to attack targets in Russian territory, leading to an escalation of the conflict.

Arestovych acknowledged those concerns, but insisted that Ukraine would only use the weapon to defend its territory, not to attack Russia.

US President Joe Biden on May 30 said Washington will not transfer rocket systems that can reach Russian territory. He does not seem to rule out the possibility of supplying rockets to Ukraine, but will set operating conditions if they are delivered.

Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev called the decision “reasonable”.

Rocket artillery is always at the top of the list of weapons that Ukraine asks for Western aid. The Ukrainian leadership has raised this issue directly with American officials in many meetings.

The M270 multiple rocket launcher entered service with the US Army in 1983, and is currently used by more than 10 countries. Each launcher can carry 12 rounds with a range of 30-65 km, while the latest variants can hit targets at a distance of over 160 km.

Miniature version M142 HIMARS is developed from the M270 complex, with each system carrying 6 227 mm caliber M31 rounds with a range of 70 km or one MGM-140 ATACMS tactical missile capable of hitting targets. 300 km away.

Possession of the M270 and HIMARS systems will bring clear benefits to the Ukrainian military. These are modern weapons, significantly adding combat capabilities to the Ukrainian army in the context that this force only operates rocket artillery from the Soviet era.

Long-range rocket artillery helps Ukraine possess the ability to attack deeply into Russia’s combat formations, making it impossible for the enemy to maneuver and concentrate large-scale fire to break through the line. However, experts also point out many limitations that hinder Washington’s ability to transfer these rocket artillery systems to Kiev, as well as limit their combat effectiveness.

The momentum of Russia's advance in eastern Ukraine after three months of hostilities.  Graphics: Washington Post.

The momentum of Russia’s advance in eastern Ukraine after three months of hostilities. Graphics: Washington Post.

Huyen Le (Theo CNN)

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