The US announced on Monday a renewed $1billion (£800million) military aid package to Ukraine, which will include munitions for HIMARS, or high mobility artillery rocket systems. The cornerstone of the White House’s military aid is dozens of HIMARS which have been lauded by Ukraine’s armed forces as weapons to turn the tide of the war.
Foreign Policy magazine’s deputy editor, James Palmer, described the US-supplied HIMARS, as wreaking “havoc” and “terrifyingly dominant” in global warfare.
This comes as the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Moscow has launched a “major new ground forces formation”, which the Kremlin is using to swell the Russian army’s decimated ranks.
A US official said earlier this week that Russia has likely suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties in the Ukraine war so far.
This number of wounded and injured represented a “tremendous number of casualties”, according to Pentagon under-secretary for defence for policy, Colin Kahl.
He said: “There’s a lot of fog in war, but I think it’s safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months.
“Now that is a combination of killed in action and wounded in action and that number might be a little lower, a little higher, but I think that’s kind of in the ballpark.”
To counteract such losses, the MoD suggested Putin has established the “3rd Army Corps”, or 3 AC, based just outside of the Russian capital.
New recruits are being lured in with “lucrative cash bonuses”, it added.
“Russian regional politicians have confirmed that potential 3 AC recruits are being offered lucrative cash bonuses once they deploy to Ukraine.
“Recruitment is open to men up to 50 years old and with only middle-school education.”
“A Russian army corps typically consists of 15-20,000 troops, but it will probably be difficult for Russia to bring 3 AC up to this strength, given very limited levels of popular enthusiasm for volunteering for combat in Ukraine.
“3 AC’s effect is unlikely to be decisive to the campaign.”
Overnight, blasts were reported at a Saky Russian air base near Novofedorivka in the annexed Crimea, with one person reportedly killed, according to the head of the Russia-controlled regional administration, Sergei Aksyonov.
But Russia insists the explosions were down to ammunition being detonated, not an attack on the facility.
Ukraine said it was not claiming responsibility for the explosions.
Without referencing the reports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his Tuesday night address that the war “began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation”.
He added that “Crimea is Ukrainian, and we will never give it up.”
Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, with Russian-installed authorities holding a referendum on incorporation into Russian territory that is widely recognised as illegitimate.