Ukraine’s New Rocket Systems Appear To Be Setting Russia Back

This image is emblematic of a new narrative. That of highly accurate, long-range weaponry provided to Ukraine by the west; now taking center stage and changing the battlefield. HIMARS, the U.S.-provided rocket system, is the star player as Ukraine, for the first time, hits Russia where it hurts their stores of shells and rockets.Phillips O’Brien is the professor of strategic studies at The University of St. Andrews. “If the Ukrainians can keep destroying Russian ammunition before it can be fired, that’s by far one of the most effective things they can do,” O’Brien said. O’Brien, a leading expert on war strategy, took a close look at Ukraine’s HIMARS attack this week on a Russian weapons depot. Kherson, an important port on the Dnipro River that flows into the Black Sea, fell to Russian forces on the first day of the invasion.Ukranian forces say, on July 11, they destroyed a Russian ammunition depot in Nova Khakhovka 40 miles east of Kherson. And the results were dramatic. Russian TV said the attack blew out windows within a mile radius of the blast, suggesting that Ukraine’s rocket hit the bullseye of a massive store of Russian ordinance. These are satellite images from before the missile strike and after. O’Brien, using geolocation tools, concluded the Russians put the depot in a shockingly obvious place for the Ukranians to find and target. It was located along a vital supply line: one of the Russian-controlled rail tracks, right next to the bridge where it crosses the Dnipro River. “The Russian way of supply is pretty straightforward. It’s based on sending things as far as possible by train, by rail, and then setting up a large depot and then sending trucks out. So the Ukrainians, in a sense, have to follow the rail lines,” O’Brien said. NEWSY’S JASON BELLINI: How come they’re not doing a better job of protecting this ammo if indeed the Ukrainians are able to target it and attack it? PHILLIP O’BRIEN: Maybe they didn’t expect the Ukrainians to be as effective with these systems as they have turned out to be. Another one is that the Russian military is a very top-down military with quite rigid systems. So actually changing their supply system is a very tricky thing to do in such a rigid hierarchical system. A map from the Kyiv independent shows how widespread Ukranian attacks on weapons depots are becoming; including on the eastern front, where Russian artillery has pummeled the way for its army to slowly progress deeper into Ukraine. But that firepower …


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