HIMARS and Western Weapons: Playing an Important Role in the War in Ukraine: The Russian military continues to pound cities far beyond the front lines of the Donbas with rocket, artillery, and mortar fire.
Russian forces hit Odesa with six cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea this week, destroying residential buildings and a school, and wounding six people. The Russians claimed they hit and destroyed an ammunition depot there.
In the north, the city of Sumy was hit hard. So was Mykolaiv, a key shipbuilding center, where cluster bombs and missiles struck industrial and infrastructure facilities.
Valentin Reznichenko, the regional governor of Dnipropetrovsk, said, “Up to 40 rockets were fired at Nikopol. There is destruction at two industrial enterprises. The explosions caused fires there. Several private houses and power lines were damaged in the city.”
HIMARS Stabilizing the Front
While Russian troops continue to attack westward in the Donetsk region, their artillery pounds Ukrainian positions and civilian areas behind the lines. But the U.S.-made HIMARS missile system is stopping their advance. Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said in a post to the Telegram app that the HIMARS missile system has helped stabilize the situation.
“It is complex, intense, but completely controlled. An important factor contributing to our retention of defensive lines and positions is the timely arrival of M142 HIMARS, which deliver targeted strikes on enemy control points, ammunition, and fuel storage depots,” he said.
On his Facebook page, Zaluzhny added that he discussed the situation with U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Army Gen. Mark Milley, and they had “synchronized the requests” of the Ukrainian military. He thanked Milley, the “United States and its allies for their help in the struggle for freedom.”
Vitalii Barabash, the local head of the military in the Avdiivka region, just north of the city of Donetsk, also emphasized the role the U.S.-supplied weapons have played in stopping the Russian advance.
Barabash said that U.S. HIMARS systems and M777 howitzers were making a difference in the fighting. “They are working on the front line. We can hear them; we see the positive impact of their work,” Barabash said.
Putin and Erdogan Meet With Iran
In a rare trip outside of Russia, President Vladimir Putin will meet in Tehran with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The three are expected to discuss the situation in Syria, grain exports, and the ongoing war in Ukraine, a Turkish official said. Iran and Russia are looking to solidify their ties, since they are both targets of Western economic sanctions.
The U.S. accuses Iran of planning to supply Russia with hundreds of drones, some of which can be armed. Iran has denied this.
The Turks and Russians support opposing factions in conflicts in both Syria and Libya.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska took a high-profile trip to Washington, where she met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and First Lady Jill Biden.
Blinken and State Department spokesman Ned Price assured Zelenska of the United States’ commitment to Ukraine. Zelenska also met with Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID has already provided Ukraine with billions of dollars since the beginning of the invasion, to ease humanitarian suffering.
Russia’s Lies Get Weirder
In a weird twist, some Russian lawmakers have claimed that the unexpected resistance that Ukrainian troops have exhibited since their country was invaded has less to do with the Ukrainian desire for freedom, and more to do with American laboratory experiments that created superhuman mutants.
Russian Federation Council co-chairs Duma Konstantin Kosachev and Irina Yarovaya said that blood tests conducted on Ukrainian POWs showed that “experiments were made on them and experiments were carried out on the territory of Ukraine on extremely dangerous diseases, which under certain circumstances could be distributed for military purposes.”
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He served as a US Army Special Forces NCO, and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com and other military news organizations, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for over 11 years. His work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.