Putin Meets With Top Officials as Russia Worries Over Devastating HIMARS

Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a cabinet meeting on Monday with senior officials, amid concerns about Ukraine's High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the United States that Western officials claim hamper Moscow's war efforts.

The rocket systems first arrived in Ukraine in June from the U.S and have been seen as crucial to helping Kyiv's forces repel the Russian military.

The Russian state-backed TASS news agency reported on Monday that Putin will hold the cabinet meeting via videoconference on Monday, with the main topics being the development of air transport and aircraft manufacturing. Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, and Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev will give presentations at the meeting.

The Kremlin said "a number of current issues will also be considered," without providing more details, but it is likely that a response to HIMARS will be broached at the meeting, according to TASS. Putin last met with top officials on July 15, when he held a meeting of Russia's Security Council.

Putin Meets With Top Officials
Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a cabinet meeting on Monday with senior officials, amid concerns about Ukraine’s HIMARS from the United States that Western officials have said have hampered Moscow’s war efforts. In this combination image, Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with participants of the Bolshaya Peremena national contest for school students via a video link at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 20, 2022 and U.S. M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers fire during a military exercise in southeastern Morocco on June 9, 2021. Getty

Western officials have touted the threat HIMARS poses to Moscow. American-made HIMARS can carry either six guided rockets with a range of around 40 miles, or a single Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), with a range of almost 200 miles.

A senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Friday that Ukraine had used HIMARS to destroy more than 100 "high value" Russian targets in recent weeks. The official said that among those targets were ammunition depots, long-range artillery positions, command posts, air-defense sites, and radar and communications nodes.

Retired U.S. Army General Mark Hertling called the HIMARS a "game changer" on Saturday and said that Moscow's forces are now "in dire shape." He said that HIMARS has a greater range, precision and accuracy than most of the weapons Ukraine is using to fight Russian forces.

On Friday, the White House announced that an additional $270 million in security assistance would be sent to Ukraine, including four more HIMARS. That same day, Ukraine denied Russia's claim that it destroyed four HIMARS launchers.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Ukraine's use of HIMARS was "degrading" Russia's capabilities.

Earlier on Monday, the British Ministry of Defence said Russia is likely continuing to "struggle" to extract and repair thousands of Russian combat vehicles that have been damaged during the war in Ukraine.

Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, in what he called a "special military operation" against what he claimed was the eastward expansion of NATO and with an aim of "de-nazifying" Ukraine's leadership. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is Jewish and has lost family in the Holocaust.

Thousands of troops have died since the war began, while millions have been uprooted from their homes.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian foreign ministry for comment.