Russo-Ukrainian War 5/26/22

Multiple Launch Rocket Systems from C Battery, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Field Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division fire rockets during a cross-boundary live-fire March 25 near Cheorwon, South Korea. (Image via United States Armed Forces)

NATO allies have increasingly been met with calls to provide MRL (multiple rocket launcheers) as a result of the increasing Russian pressure on the Donbas. Though quickly ruled out at the onset of the war, Western nations have increasingly considered demands by Ukraine for rocket artillery, with a senior defense official agreeing with Ukraine’s assessements on the importance of rocket artillery, hinting at a possible decision.

Q: You mentioned HIMARS at the top. The Ukrainians have also mentioned this. They’ve also mentioned MLRS in the same breath. Can you explain why HIMARS or any other equivalent M — MLRS system would be beneficial to them, please?

SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Yeah, what — what I mentioned at the top was that I’m not going to mention it because it’s not — there’s been no decisions, Luis. Look, I — I don’t — I don’t want to — I don’t want to get ahead of — of — of the next presidential drawdown authority package. I just — I want to be very careful here on this.

You have heard that the — that the Ukrainians have asked for MLRS systems, multi-launch rocket systems provide greater range and greater firepower than a typical artillery system, and you know, they — they, the Ukrainians, have made it clear and we don’t disagree that — that this fight in the Donbas is a fight that’s heavily-reliant on long-range fires, and we’ve already seen the degree to which artillery systems on both sides are — are being used every day. So I think I’d just leave it at that.

Senior Defense Official, Pentagon Background Briefing

Ukraine’s request for long-range rocket systems comes as Russian forces focus their shelling on the last pockets of resistance in Luhansk. With intermittent raids by ground soldiers, constant shelling is slowly wearing down Ukrainian forces. Rhetoric from Kyiv has been grim, with officials reiterating their need for heavy weapons. In particular, Ukraine has long-sought the American MLRS, self-propelled rocket artillery that would almost certainly change the course of the war. Rocket artillery would allow Ukrainian forces to strike Russian artillery, allowing their own forces to leave cover and recover lost positions. En masse, rocket artillery, combined with UAVs and IFVs (infantry fighting vehicles), could be used to halt and overturn the Donbas offensive.

Though remaining confident that the war as a whole will be won, it seems Ukrainian officials could be preparing to acknowledge a possible defeat in the Donbas. Russia, now beginning to rely on severely outdated T-62 tanks, is not in a position to turn short-term gains into the momentum needed to subjugate Ukraine. Nor does it seem that Russia will be able to freeze the conflict as they may wish, especially if Ukraine receives rocket artillery.

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