The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) has been delivered to the Ukrainian Military in growing numbers since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian War in February alongside other NATO artillery assets, and when operating alongside an extensive network of U.S. and other Western advisors and extensive NATO surveillance assets it has proven a major thorn in the side of Russian forces. The ability to quickly locate and neutralise targets far behind Russian lines ranging from supply depots to tank columns has been one of the most significant strengths of Ukrainian forces, with HIMARS widely hailed as a wonder weapon in the West for its significant impact on the balance of power in the field. Although it was speculated that Russia could acquire some similarly modern but much longer ranged systems from North Korea, this has failed to materialise so far while Russia’s ability to provide targeting data on the same level as NATO can remains in serious question. Despite HIMARS’ effectiveness, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine General Valery Zaluzhny recently elaborated when speaking to The Economist that the Russian Military had adapted well to countering the systems which have consequentially become less effective over time.
Regarding the balance of power int he field, General Zaluzhny stated that Russian forces had relocated assets and “gone to a distance the HIMARS can’t reach. And we haven’t got anything longer-range,” indicating that longer range munitions for the HIMARS systems were needed. Dismissing reports that Russia’s war effort had diminished, the general added: “Russian mobilisation has worked. It is not true that their problems are so dire that these people will not fight. They will. A tsar tells them to go to war, and they go to war,” stressing that he had “no doubt” a new push toward the Ukrainian capital Kiev would be launched. His comments come as a growing number of sources have indicated that the Ukrainian government may soon need to abandon major cities such as Kiev as public infrastructure became unusable due to Russian strikes. Zaluzhny supported these predictions by highlighting that continued strikes on key infrastructure targets such as power stations, which first began in October, could be decisive. “In my personal opinion, I am not an energy expert but it seems to me we are on the edge. We are balancing on a fine line. And if [the power grid] is destroyed…that is when soldiers’ wives and children start freezing. And such a scenario is possible. What kind of mood the fighters will be in, can you imagine? Without water, light and heat, can we talk about preparing reserves to keep fighting?” he questioned. As temperatures in the region continue to drop, Ukraine’s ability to sustain its population centres through the winter as both infrastructure assets and the air defences needed to protect them diminish rapidly remains in serious question.