Starting Thursday, Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov hailed the arrival of the longest-range missiles the United States has provided thus far in the four-month long war.
"HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine. Thank you to my colleague and friend SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools! Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them," Reznikov announced on Twitter.
The HIMARS, or High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, were announced as part of the latest $700 million weapons package to Ukraine on June 1. In total four of the systems will be transferred as part of the authorization, with the possibility of more in coming aid packages.
The HIMARS being provided to the Ukrainians are estimated to be able to hit targets about 50 miles away, which from the administration's standpoint marks a significant improvement in range, but still makes it unlikely the missiles could be used to strike within Russian territory, which Biden had expressly said he wants to avoid.
The US has said that Ukraine's military leadership has provided "assurances" it won't use the newly provided systems to attack Russian territory, amid persisting fears Washington and Moscow could enter direct conflict.
Reznikov announcement didn't specify how many HIMARS have arrived at this point, however, it didn't take long at all for Ukraine military observers to allege the US-supplied system has already appeared on the battlefield as of Friday...
Given that prior Pentagon statements indicated it would take at least three to four weeks to train Ukrainian forces on using the HIMARS - and given it seems the system has already rapidly been deployed - the likelihood is that Ukrainians had already been receiving training by US advisers in a neighboring country in anticipation of receiving them.
A well-known war monitoring account has posted what's purported to be video below of HIMARS hitting their targets:
Visible difference between HIMARS and BM-21 "Hail". pic.twitter.com/CYyLgKrm1d— ТРУХА⚡️English (@TpyxaNews) June 24, 2022
Meanwhile, for months the Kremlin has warned the West against providing Ukraine's forces with long-rage weaponry. Russia has threatened attacks against "decision-making" command centers, and has vowed to disrupt their transport to the battlefield.
At the same time, the Pentagon has reportedly wanted to at least double the number of HIMARS being provided. Especially if battlefield 'success' is proven, the US is likely to ramp up its supply of the systems to Kiev.
HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine.— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) June 23, 2022
Thank you to my 🇺🇲 colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools!
Summer will be hot for russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them. pic.twitter.com/BTmwadthpp
Ukraine's leadership says the long-range, more advanced US weaponry spells pain for the Russian occupiers, however, others have lately admitted it could be "too little, too late."