Ukraine needs many more rocket launchers from the west, adviser says | Ukraine

Ukraine needs 60 multiple rocket launchers – far more than the handful promised so far by the UK and the US – to have a chance of defeating Russia, according to an aide to the country’s presidency .

Oleksiy Arestovych, a military adviser to the president’s chief of staff, told the Guardian that while he believed the rocket launchers were “a game-changing weapon”, not enough had been committed to reverse the course of the war.

“The less we have, the worse our situation will be. Our troops will continue to die and we will continue to lose ground,” especially if countries with only dozens of systems “decide to give away four or five,” Arestovych said. .

On Monday, Britain announced it would donate a handful of M270 tracked rocket launchers, carrying missiles with a range of around 50 miles, days after the United States announced that they would donate four similar truck-based high mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars).

Arestovych said Ukraine needs several times more multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS), which have a range far beyond anything in the country’s existing arsenal.

“If we get 60 of these systems, the Russians will lose all ability to advance anywhere, they will be stopped dead in their tracks. If we get 40, they will advance, albeit very slowly with heavy casualties; with 20, they will continue to advance with higher losses than now,” he said.

The US Army has 363 Himars and 225 M270 rocket launchers, and the US Marines have 47 others, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, while the UK has 35 of its version of the M270s, which which indicates that there might be a capacity to provide more. to Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly said it would step up its offensive in Ukraine if the longer-range rockets were delivered. Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said on Monday: “The longer the range of weapons you supply, the further the line from which the neo-Nazis are removed.” [the Ukrainians] could threaten the Russian Federation will be pushed.

On Sunday, Vladimir Putin said Moscow would hit “new targets” in Ukraine if the West increased arms deliveries. Early Sunday morning, Russia launched a cruise missile strike on a railway depot in the eastern suburbs of Kyiv, the first time the capital had been hit in more than five weeks.

Ukraine’s latest public lobbying came as a battle for control raged in the small eastern town of Sievierodonetsk, with Kyiv forces attempting to mount a counterattack after Russia nearly managed to capture it at the end of last week.

Serhiy Haidai, the governor of Luhansk, where the city is located, said Monday morning that “the situation has gotten a bit worse for us”, having reached a point where Ukrainian forces had “liberated almost half of the city “.

Later Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy struck a more pessimistic note, telling reporters in Kyiv that if his country’s forces resist, “there are more [Russians] and they are stronger”. Ukraine’s military casualties have been estimated by insiders at 150 dead per day and 800 wounded.

Haidai said the shelling had increased tenfold in Sievierodonetsk and the nearby town of Lysychansk, still held by Ukraine, and that there were other reports of intense fighting involving machine guns, mortars and shelling. artillery involving thousands of soldiers.

Overnight, it emerged that Zelenskiy had traveled to nearby frontlines on Sunday to boost soldiers’ morale. The President revealed that he made a risky trip to Lysychansk and nearby Soledar which at one point took him within a few miles of Russian positions.

“We also brought you something from them,” added Zelenskiy in a selfie video posted in the early hours. “It’s important. We brought confidence. And strength. I wish them health. Low reverence to their parents. I wish us all victory.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy with service members
Volodymyr Zelenskiy with service members during his visit to Bakhmut and Lysychansk districts. Photograph: UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SER/AFP/Getty Images

Arestovych said Zelenskiy wanted to “show his support for the troops” because the fighting in the Donbass region was “hard enough for us”. The president also wanted to push back against “Russian misinformation” that he “sits in his bunker in Kyiv and doesn’t care about the front line.”

Ukrainian strategists said they tried to induce Russian forces to expand into Sievierodonetsk, hoping to blunt the operational effectiveness of the invasion force. Although 120 Russian battalions remain inside Ukraine, Kyiv believes they are currently operating at 40-50%.

Russia, however, has been making slow but steady progress in the Donbass region, advancing at a rate of around 500 meters to 1 km per day in recent weeks, largely focusing its efforts on an increasingly small from the front line, in the area around Sievierodonetsk where there is a bulge in the positions of Ukraine.

Arestovitch said Ukraine’s main problem was that, although it was able to inflict losses on the Russians and blunt their advances in the Donbass and on an 800-mile (1,300 km) front line, it was much more difficult to push the occupants back. Military members generally need to secure a battlefield advantage of 3 to 1 or more to have any prospect of victory.

“We need four to five heavy weapons brigades to be able to carry out a proper counter-offensive and make it successful. We have the manpower, we don’t have the armaments,” Arestovych said. “Being on the offensive is about five times harder than being on the defensive.”

The adviser said his biggest fear was that the West would stop sending arms to Ukraine, “because it would return to the original situation before the war, long and static front lines, this time three times as much of our lands having been captured”. than before.”

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Elsewhere, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces killed more than 450 “nationalists” in Horlivka and Kodema, north of Donetsk, and destroyed parts of an armored vehicle repair factory in the Kharkiv region. There was no word on the reported deaths from the Ukrainian side.

In Russia, the governor of the Kursk region, Roman Starovoit, said that the village of Tyotkino, near the border with Ukraine, came under fire from the Ukrainian side which targeted a bridge and businesses on Monday morning.

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