HIMARS seems like a game-changer regarding the war in Ukraine, as it is pushing Russian forces to consider attacks from longer and longer ranges. And it seems Putin is paying a big price as these weapons keep doing serious damage: Two top Russian pilots were killed by HIMARS, a long-range rocket system supplied by the US, a report says.
Lieutenant Colonel Maksim Potyomin, 41, died in Donetsk on July 8 when his motorcade was hit by precision-guided rocket artillery, the MailOnline reported.
Another fighter pilot, Colonel Anatoly Stasyukevich, 54, is also believed to have died in the same attack.
While the news of their deaths was previously known, Maksim Potyomin’s father Alexey told Russian outlet V1.ru this week that he believed his son’s death was caused by a HIMARS strike.
“As far as I know, the car with my son was hit by a missile from the HIMARS complex, which we have been hearing so much about lately… The resulting injuries were incompatible with life,” Potyomin told the outlet.
The pilot’s funeral took place on Sunday, where he was buried with full military honors, the outlet reported.
Both pilots were senior officers in the 1st Guards Baranovichi Red Banner mixed aviation division, said the Mail Online. It was the first unit to receive the Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation fighters in 2019 and includes a helicopter-rescue detachment, according to reports.
The US has given Ukraine 12 units so far, with another four on the way, according to Gen. Mark Milley.
A military expert told Insider’s Sinéad Baker that HIMARS is the “perfect” weapon due to poor Russian logistics forcing senior commanders into its range.
HIMARS are more advanced than Ukraine’s existing artillery capabilities and can hit targets as far as 50 miles away.
Russia reacted angrily to the US sending Ukraine the weapons, with Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening to escalate his bombing campaign in response.
Alia Shoaib is a junior news reporter on the weekend team at Insider where this first appeared and is based in London.