Russia hasn't destroyed any of the devastating HIMARS artillery given Ukraine, US says, contradicting Russia's claims
- Gen. Mark Milley on Wednesday said
Russiahadn't "eliminated" US-donated HIMARS.
- This stands in stark contrast to Russian claims of having destroyed four of the weapons.
Gen. Mark Milley says Russia hasn't destroyed any of the HIMARS artillery the US has given to
Speaking at a Wednesday Pentagon press conference, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said: "To date, those systems have not been eliminated by the Russians."
Milley acknowledged that the systems were at risk, adding: "I knock on wood every time I say something like that."
His statement contradicted several claims by Russian officials and media outlets that Russia has destroyed some of the prized weapons, which Ukraine lobbied hard for and says give it a much-needed way to blunt Russia's invasion.
The HIMARS, short for High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, has proved crucial in attempts to hold back Russia's advance in the eastern Donbas region, where it is focusing its troops.
The truck-like mounted units can fire precision-targeted heavy artillery about 50 miles, depending on the rounds used.
The US has given Ukraine 12 units so far, with another four on the way, Milley said.
His remarks followed several Russian claims to have destroyed as many as four of them.
In a briefing reported by the state-operated media outlet Zvezda, a Russian defense ministry representative said Russian forces had destroyed four HIMARS launchers from July 5 to Wednesday.
A July 6 Russian MOD Telegram post said two of these were taken out in Malotaranovka in the Donbas along with two ammunition depots for the weapon.
Milley didn't specifically address the Russian claims in his briefing, instead saying in broad terms that the HIMARS hadn't been destroyed.
When Insider approached the Pentagon for comment, a representative pointed to a July 8 briefing during which an unnamed senior defense official said the Russian claims were "not correct." Insider requested an updated response to the most recent Russian claims.
The Russian Ministry of Defense didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.
As well as supplying the units themselves, the Pentagon is sending hundreds of rounds for them and providing training in how to use them.
Milley said the HIMARS had been used "against Russian command-and-control nodes, their logistical networks, their field artillery near defense sites, and many other targets," adding that strikes made by HIMARS were "steadily degrading" Russia's efforts.
CNN footage shot from the Ukrainian front line in the Donbas in early July showed a HIMARS in operation, clearly prized by its Ukrainian operators.
If Russia is held back, commentators are predicting a bloody "slugfest" in which a lengthy stalemate is possible.
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