Move is first official admission of devastating impact long-range artillery weapons are having on Kremlin’s advances
The Kremlin has ordered its armies to prioritise destroying US long-range artillery in Ukraine – a first official admission of their devastating impact on Russia’s military plans.
Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, gave the order shortly after US Himars were reported to have blown up another ammunition depot in Russian-occupied Kherson.
Himars are credited with destroying more than a dozen Russian ammunition depots lying miles behind the frontline.
The Russian defence ministry said Mr Shoigu had visited soldiers fighting in Donbas for the second time in three days and ordered the commander “to prioritise the destruction” of Himars.
US Himars can land an artillery shell on a spot the size of a dinner table from 60 miles away, bringing Russian ammunition depots into range.
The deployment of the Himars at the end of June has slowed Russia’s advance by forcing it to rethink supply routes. These are cumbersome because they rely on trains, low-capacity trucks and soldiers to load and unload heavy boxes of ammunition.
Mr Shoigu’s rare visit was likely to have been an attempt to boost morale amongst Russian soldiers fighting in Donbas. On Saturday, he handed out medals at an army headquarters and ordered soldiers to resume their attacks after a break.
Western analysts, however, said attritional Russian momentum on the frontline would take time to regain.
“The end of the Russian operational pause is unlikely to create a massive new wave of ground assaults across multiple axes of advance,” said the US-based Institute for the Study of War.
Russian shelling had killed five people in the town of Toretsk, near the Donbas frontline, according to reports from Ukraine. Rocket attacks were also reported in Mykolaiv, in southern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian woman stands among the ruins in the town of Toretsk after it was hit by Russian shelling
Despite barely taking any ground in July, the Kremlin said it had no intention of ending its invasion.
“There is no clear timeframe, the main thing is the effectiveness of this operation,” said Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman.
The Kremlin has flip-flopped on these goals. Vladimir Putin has said he wants to capture Donbas, but his generals have talked about capturing the entire Ukrainian coastline.