On Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered Russian troops to target Ukraine’s long-range weapons and artillery after Ukrainian forces said they used US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) against Russian targets.
“Army General Sergey Shoigu … instructed the commander to use surgical strikes and crush the enemy’s long-range missile and artillery means,” the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to Tass.
Last week, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces had used HIMARS to launch 30 strikes against Russian targets. Ukraine said the HIMARS were used to destroy two ammunition depots deep inside Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, while Russia said the strikes hit civilian infrastructure.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that Ukraine has used long-range weapons “to shell the residential areas of Donbas and continue the intentional incineration of wheat fields and grain storage facilities.” As Ukraine has been using the Western-provided arms, Russia has stepped up missile attacks across Ukraine.
The HIMARS the US provided Ukraine have a range of 50 miles, although they could be outfitted with munitions to reach longer ranges. When the US sent Ukraine the HIMARS, Biden administration officials said they received “assurances” that they won’t be used to target Russian territory.
The State Department on Sunday implied that under the deal with Kyiv, Ukrainian forces could use HIMARS on Crimea, which Russia has controlled since 2014. When asked by Antiwar.com if the ban on Ukraine using HIMARS on Russian territory applies to Ukraine, the State Department replied, “Crimea is Ukraine.”
A Ukrainian intelligence official said Saturday that Ukraine could use HIMARS to hit Ukraine. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev responded and said such attacks could lead to “doomsday” for Ukrainian leadership and said it’s a “systemic threat” to Russia that Ukraine and NATO countries don’t recognize Crimea as Russian territory.