This week, a bipartisan call from four senators urged the U.S. Department of Defense to dispatch more advanced artillery rocket systems and ammunition to Ukraine in support of its efforts to repel a Russian invasion.
In a letter, U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) pressured Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III to send more than the four M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) agreed to by the Biden administration earlier this month. While that decision was sound, in their view, the number was too low, given the amount of artillery Russian forces command. Be it HIMARS, or a similar rocket system like the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), they said these systems could help even the odds between Ukrainian and Russian forces.
“The outcome of Russia’s war against Ukraine will hinge on how firmly the West supports Ukrainian forces,” the senators wrote. “Following the incredible defeat of early Russian attempts to topple Ukraine’s elected government and seize the entire nation, battlefield needs have understandably evolved, and we must be nimble in meeting these changing needs. As a result, we ask that you urgently provide a significant number of additional artillery rocket systems to Ukraine.”
To date, the U.S. has provided approximately $5.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February – an invasion Russia insists is a security operation but has been denounced by governments worldwide. Despite analysts’ early expectations, Ukraine repelled Russian attacks in the north and on its capital, Kyiv. The war has since gridlocked in the eastern Donbas region and along Ukraine’s southern coast.
Despite Ukraine’s early successes, Russia continues to overshadow it in terms of artillery, as well as air and naval power. HIMARS is a mobile artillery rocket system that requires extensive training to utilize. Ukraine’s needs are urgent, the senators stressed, and leveling the playing field for artillery would be a massive boost to its efforts – and might even inspire similar, additional donations from other allies and partners.