Ukraine’s National Guard has destroyed three of Russia’s multiple missile launch systems (MLRS) using M777 howitzers, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry on Monday.
The MLRS, rocket launchers that are mounted on self-propelled vehicles, were destroyed in the area around Severodonetsk, a strategic city in Eastern Ukraine. The country’s defense ministry shared a videowith the footage attributed to Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces, on Twitter early Monday that showed aerial footage of the Russian MLRS sitting immobile on a stretch of land, and then going up in smoke and flames after being struck.
Its intelligence provided by the country’s Special Operations Forces allowed the National Guard to successfully destroy the Russian MLRS, the ministry said. The video had more than 84,000 views by publication time.
The destruction of the Russian weapons systems may serve as a sign of progress in Ukraine’s counter-offensive around Severodonetsk, especially after the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Monday that Russia had pushed Ukrainian units away from the city’s center “with the support of support.” After initially focusing the assault around Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have been chipping away at Donbas in the east. Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that the “fierce” battle for Severodonetsk could determine the overall fate of the region.
Newsweek was not able to independently verify Ukraine’s report on destroying the three Russian MLRS. The defense ministries of Russia and Ukraine were contacted for confirmation and comment.
Artillery has become a key factor in deciding whether Russia or Ukraine succeeds in the conflict, according to multiple Ukrainian officials. Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence, told The Guardian in an interview published last week that the fighting has become a war of artillery that Ukraine is at risk of losing.
Mykhailo Podolya, a Ukrainian presidential adviser, also said on Twitter Monday that in order for Ukraine to win the war, it requires “heavy weapons” like 155 mm howitzers, MLRS, tanks, armored vehicles, and drones.
American-made M777 howitzers are among the weapons the United States has sent to Ukraine. At a Pentagon press briefing last month, a senior Defense Department official said that those howitzers were having a big impact on the battlefield.
“You’re already seeing the Ukrainians being willing to go on the counteroffensive in the Donbas [region],” the official said. “They are taking back some towns that the Russians have taken in the past.”
Russia, however, warned the US last month against efforts to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons.
Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, said at the time that Russia hopes “that common sense will prevail, and Washington will not take such a provocative step.”
“We are calling for an end to the senseless and extremely risky pumping of weapons into the country. It is important to refrain from threats against us and claims of a military victory for Ukraine,” the ambassador said, according to Ukrayinksa Pravda.