Ukraine Relies on Intelligence from US for HIMARS Rocket Strikes

Ukrainian officials tell WaPo they almost never launch HIMARS rounds without using coordinates provided by US military personnel

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Ukraine is reliant on coordinates provided or confirmed by the US and its allies to launch strikes using the US-provided HIMARS rocket systems, a revelation that demonstrates Washington’s deep involvement in the war.

The HIMARS is a precision-guided artillery system, one that Ukraine has employed quite a bit in its fight against Russia. One example is a January 1 HIMARS strike on a facility housing Russian forces in Donetsk that killed at least 89 Russian soldiers, one of the deadliest Ukrainian attacks of the war.

Citing three unnamed Ukrainian officials and one unnamed US official, the Post reported that Ukraine also relies on the US for targeting coordinates for similar precision weapons, including the M270 Multiple-Launch Rocket System. One senior Ukrainian official said that Ukrainian forces almost never launch strikes using these weapons without coordinates provided by US military personnel that are located at a military base in a different country in Europe.

Top Biden administration officials have acknowledged publicly that they have been providing Ukraine with intelligence to carry out attacks on Russian forces, but the details of that cooperation were not previously known.

The Post report said that Ukrainian officials identify targets they want to hit and the location, then provide that information to the US military for more accurate coordinates. The US military then usually sends the coordinates, although sometimes they don’t, and the Ukrainian forces don’t fire.

A senior Ukrainian official said that the cooperation shows the US can provide longer-range weapons without having to worry about them being used to hit inside Russian territory. “You’re controlling every shot anyway, so when you say, ‘We’re afraid that you’re going to use it for some other purposes,’ well, we can’t do it even if we want to,” the official said.

But a US official disputed the idea that Ukraine was running the targets by the US for approval and said the US only provides coordinates. Back in August, a top Ukrainian intelligence official said that they consult with the US before launching HIMARS strikes and that the US has veto power over the target. Ukraine could have more freedom now to choose its own targets as the Biden administration is less and less concerned about escalating the war.

Russia has made clear it views the US and Ukraine’s cooperation on targeting as an example of Washington’s direct role in the war, and Moscow isn’t alone in its assessment. Back in March 2022, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), former chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said the US wasn’t providing “real-time targeting intelligence” because that kind of cooperation “steps over the line to making us participate in the war.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.