Ukraine gets more U.S., German rocket launcher systems - minister
(Reuters) - Ukraine has received more German and U.S.-made multiple rocket launcher systems, part of a series of deliveries of the high-precision heavy weapons promised by its allies, its defence minister said on Monday.
The government in Kyiv has repeatedly pleaded with the West to send more long-range artillery as it tries to turn the tide on Russia's Feb. 24 invasion and attack Russian supply lines and ammo dumps.
Moscow has accused the West of dragging out the conflict by giving Ukraine more arms, and said the supply of longer-range weapons justifies Russia's attempts to expand control over more Ukrainian territory for its own protection.
Ukraine has received four U.S.-made high mobility artillery rocket systems (HIMARS), Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said.
"I’m grateful to @POTUS and @SecDef Lloyd Austin III and the (U.S.) people for strengthening of #UAarmy," Reznikov wrote on Twitter.
HIMARS have a longer range and are more precise than Ukraine's Soviet-era rocket artillery, allowing Ukrainian forces to hit Russian targets that were previously unreachable.
According to estimates by experts, Ukraine already operates up to a dozen HIMARS systems.The Ukrainian military has also received three MARS II MLRS, the German version of the U.S.-made M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. The delivery was announced by Christina Lambrecht, the German defence minister on July 26.
"The third brother in the Long Hand family - MLRS MARS II from Germany - has arrived in Ukraine," Reznikov wrote on Twitter.
According to specifications by its manufacturer Kraus-Maffei Wegmann, MLRS MARS II can hit targets at a range of up to 70 km (43 miles), depending on the type of ammunition it is using.
It is designed to destroy troops and equipment, air defences, command posts and communications and to lay minefields.
Ukraine has so far received German Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzers. Lambrecht on July 26 also announced the delivery of five Gepard anti-aircraft systems.
Kyiv has previously said it needs 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones among other heavy weapons to repel Russian troops.
Other countries that have supplied Ukraine with artillery systems include the United States, Britain, France, Norway and Poland.
Russia has described its actions in Ukraine as a "special operation" to demilitarise its neighbour. Ukraine and the West have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Heavens)