The US supplied artillery systems have helped Kyiv turn the tide in its war with Russia. The new weapons have enabled Ukraine’s army to stem the Russian advance in the east and pave the way for a possible counter-offensive in Ukraine’s south. Their long-range precision missiles have allowed Ukrainian commanders to destroy Russian ammunition dumps and command posts located behind the front lines, as well as disrupting logistical supply networks.
Such has been their effect, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu tasked his commanders with “prioritising the defeat of the enemy’s long-range missile and artillery assets”.
To that effect, 50 Russian soldiers from the 45th Spetsnaz (special forces) brigade set out on a mission to identify the whereabouts of HIMARS and blow them up.
However, they were intercepted by Ukrainian troops and suffered at least 10 dead in the fierce fire fight that broke out.
Social media user @vdv_textbooks, an expert on Russian airborne troops, wrote: “Trusted source from the Russian Spetsnaz community said moment ago that first HIMARS killer will get Hero of Russia title.
“Less than 24h ago there was first raid attempt by 50 man strong Spetsnaz unit.
“Unit got hit by Ukrainian forces and has returned with heavy casualties.”
They added: “45th Spetsnaz brigade lost more than 10 operators during this operation.”
The US is believed to have delivered 16 HIMARS to Ukraine in recent months, as part of its military assistance.
Last week, the White House was reported to be preparing a new aid package totalling another one billion US dollars.
This will allegedly include ammunition for HIMARS, National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) as well as some 50 M113 armoured medical vehicles.
The Ukrainian army also succeeded in capturing a high-ranking Russian Navy Seal in another blow to the reputation of Moscow’s elite forces.
Lieutenant Stanislav Trutnev was taken captive after an operation carried out by Ukrainian forces in July.
Viktor Kovalenko, a former Ukrainian officer, who fought on the front lines against the Russians in 2014, published a letter to his Twitter account from a colleague still serving in the army.
In the letter, the colleague recounts how he and his unit intercepted the Russian special forces unit in a wood.
He wrote: “The enemy diversion group was eliminated and we collected a lot of trophies – a modern Kalashnikov rifle AK-12, a machine gun, grenade launchers, military IDS, radios of the killed etc.
“But the major achievement was the capture of the enemy group commander, Lt. Stanislav Trutnev.
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“He was from the very special Russian detachment – 140th SpecOp underwater division unit of the North Fleet with the base in Vidiaevo village near the northern Russian city of Murmansk.”
On Monday, Ukraine took delivery of its first three German Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft systems in a further boost to its army.
Ukraine’s southern command said the new air defence systems will be used to defend important infrastructure facilities.
The Gerard’s are operated by three-person crews and can hit targets at up to two and half miles.
Berlin said in May it would deliver 15 Gepards to Ukraine in July along with 60,000 rounds of ammunition.