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Putin Has a Big Problem Now: Ukraine’s Rockets Can Hit Crimea

HIMARS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
HIMARS. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Ukraine’s Rocket Launchers Can Now Reach Crimea: Retired U.S. Army Europe Gen Ben Hodges said last week that Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula occupied by the Russians since 2014, could soon be reclaimed following the retreat of Russian forces in Kherson. According to Hodges, Ukrainian forces may use Western-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to take out Russian positions in the occupied territory.

Responding to a post about how Russia’s military decisions are increasingly being determined by Ukraine’s use of the Lockheed Martin multiple rocket launchers, Hodges predicted (see below for tweet) that HIMARS will soon be firing from Kherson now that Ukrainain forces control the city, meaning that Crimea has finally become within firing range.

“The approaches to Crimea are within range. This will degrade Russian defenses/LOC’s while ‘left wing’ of the counter-offensive takes Mariupol & Melitopol by January. Then begins the decisive phase of the campaign…liberation of Crimea,” Hodges said.

Did Russia Make A Mistake?

The fact that Ukraine can now technically strike Crimea with a weapon that has already caused problems for the Russians could also indicate that the decision to withdraw troops from the region was not a strategic decision.

Following the televised announcement that troops would be pulled from Kherson city, analysts and Ukrainian officials considered the possibility that Russian forces were attempting to lull Ukraine into a false sense of security.

Since arriving in Kherson city, however, troops have reported landmines left behind, though not in numbers significant enough to make advancing into Kherson too dangerous for the Ukrainian side. The decision to publicly announce the withdrawal on television – a departure from Russia’s usual tactic of quietly pulling troops and describing the decision as a “regrouping” – may have been a double-bluff designed to prevent Ukraine from advancing back into Kherson too quickly.

Zelenskyy Vows to Retake All of Crimea

During a visit to liberated Kherson on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared to suggest that the Ukrainian military will pursue the liberation of Crimea.

Shaking hands with soldiers and meeting local people, Zelenskyy provided reassurance that the Ukrainian military was capable of maintaining lines of defense around the city and that more territories will be captured soon. Zelensky said that soldiers had “proved it was impossible to kill Ukraine” but also stressed Ukraine is ready for peace.

“You see our strong army. We are step-by-step coming through our country, through the temporarily occupied territories,” he said.

The president’s words, presence, and promise to keep fighting to reclaim all Ukrainian territory could indicate that Crimea is next on the list – although Ukrainian forces may take some time to strengthen their positions in Kherson before moving on to Crimea.

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Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.