Russia Boasts It Can 'Counteract' U.S. HIMARS After Suffering Heavy Losses

Russia boasted on Thursday that it can "counteract" American-supplied M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems—known as HIMARS—shortly after Washington said it would add four more to Ukraine's arsenal amid the ongoing war.

"One should not be afraid [of HIMARS], one should fight it. It is not a panacea, it is one of the weapons that the enemy uses now," Andrei Kartapolov, head of Russia's State Duma Defense Committee, told TASS on Thursday. "At the same time I want to emphasize that it is foreign specialists, that is to say, mercenaries, who steer it at a target. I don't rule out American servicemen working there."

"The system is serious, but there is a countermeasure—our air defense facilities," the legislator added, claiming that on Wednesday, Russia's air defense shot down 12 missiles over the Antonivka Road Bridge, also known as the Antonovsky Bridge, in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, which is currently occupied by Russian forces.

Meanwhile, The Kyiv Post reported Wednesday that Ukraine's armed forces partially destroyed the vital bridge by shelling, noting that it connects Kherson with the occupied regions next to the Crimean Peninsula.

HIMARS
Russia boasted on Thursday that it can “counteract” HIMARS. Above, a U.S.-made HIMARS (High Mobility Advanced Rocket System) is shown on static display during live fire exercises on April 14, 2016, in Crow Valley, Tarlac province, Philippines. Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Moscow-backed temporary administration in the region, said the Ukrainian military struck the nearly mile-long bridge using HIMARS.

"Ukraine has been shelling a bridge across the Dnipro in the Kherson region for the second day in a row from HIMARS' multiple launch rocket systems. Twelve rockets were fired, and 11 of them hit the bridge. There were no casualties or injuries," said Stremousov.

On Wednesday, Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine's internal affairs minister, also shared a video on his Telegram channel that he said shows Russian air defenses "unsuccessfully trying to shoot down HIMARS missiles flying towards" an ammunition depot in Skadovsk, in Ukraine's southern Kherson region.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group Wednesday that Washington would provide Ukraine with four more HIMARS.

Austin noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's troops have "effectively" used the HIMARS that they already have and that the long-range weapons "have made such a difference on the battlefield."

The new supplies will bring the total number of HIMARS in Ukraine to 16. On July 9, Ukrainian presidential adviser and peace talks negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak named HIMARS as one of three weapons Ukraine needs to turn the tide of the war.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai told Newsweek last week that Russians are "in panic mode" over HIMARS strikes.

"As the whole world has seen over the past week or so, we have been able to inflict massive damage to their missile defense systems and ammunition storage facilities deep behind the enemy lines," Haidai said.

This, he said, "was largely down to the variety of weapons we have recently received from the West. And when we have sufficient amounts of such weaponry, we will be able to carry out further counterattacks."

Newsweek reached out to Russian and Ukrainian authorities for comment.