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Ukrainian troops are finally seeing a boost to their war effort as the impact of US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) have successfully stalled Russian forces on the front lines, Yuriy Sak advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister told Fox News Digital.
“They have not progressed anywhere during the last two weeks,” Sak said in an exclusive interview. “Their offensive is pretty much stalled at the moment. The conclusion is that they are not able to beat Ukrainian armed forces in the conventional warfare.”
Russia has depended heavily on artillery strikes throughout the war, but Moscow’s stalled abilities to push forward with ground forces has prompted a greater reliance on missile strikes in civilian areas.
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“We’ve managed to slow them down on the front line, we have managed to stabilize the front line. But at the same time, they are still shooting missiles at cities across Ukraine,” the defense official explained. “This is why they resort to the tactics of terror.”
However, Sak said Moscow’s heavy reliance on artillery, and its inability to effectively advance ground forces has given Kyiv an effective operational strategy to repel Russian troops.
The HIMARS has become top dog in Ukraine’s defensive posture because it has enabled Ukrainian forces to hit Russia where it hurts the most – its eastern and southern ammunition depots.
The M142 HIMARS has proven particularly effective given its range of roughly 50 miles.
The missile system is reportedly more effective than previous artillery deployed to Ukraine, and as it is essentially a rocket system mounted on the back of a truck, its high mobility makes it more difficult for opposing forces to target.
The US has so far pledged to send at least 20 HIMARS to Kyiv.
“We are very thankful to the US government to the US people for their unprecedented support. I’m telling you this sincerely from the bottom of my heart,” Sak said. “Small children in Ukraine, without exception, know the word HIMARS now.
“They will start calling their kittens and puppies HIMARS,” he added in a stark reminder of how deeply every Ukrainian has been affected by the war.
However, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has said his forces need at least 50 systems like the HIMARS to “hold back” Russian forces and at least 100 systems “for an effective counter-offensive.”
US defense officials estimated that Russia has deployed 85 percent of its fighting force, but even with military aid provided by the US and other Western nations, Sak warned that Ukraine is still short of what it needs to fight effectively.
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“The Ukrainian armed forces have been outnumbered and outgunned,” he said. “We still need more because the front line extends to over 2,500 km (1,500 miles). It’s huge.
“It’s a distance between Warsaw in Poland and Barcelona in Spain. It’s a distance which is almost the length of the US-Mexico border,” he explained for context.
Sak argued that Ukraine needs longer range missile capabilities, like the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) which has a range of roughly 185 miles.
The longer range of fire would allow Ukrainian forces to more effectively launch counter-offensives against Russia.
However, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said speaking from the Aspen Security Forum Friday that President Biden is not yet prepared to supply Ukraine with certain missile systems.
“One of them are long-range missiles, ATACMS, which have a range of 300 km,” explained Sullivan.
“He does believe that while the key goal of the United States is to do the necessary to support and defend Ukraine, another key goal is to ensure that we do not end up in a circumstance where we are heading down the road towards a third World War,” I added.
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However, Sak pushed back on this line of reasoning and argued Kyiv has made it clear that it has no intention to strike targets within Russia’s internationally recognized borders.
“We just want to de-occupy our land, and we want to be able to defend our people,” he told Fox News Digital with the aid of the Ukraine Frontline Media Platformwho helped facilitate the interview with the official.
The defense official said Ukraine needs more than just advanced missile systems to counter Russian forces.
Defense systems, armored vehicles, tanks and modern combat aircraft are essential if Kyiv wants to liberate its occupied territories.
The defense ministry has broken down its strategy across Ukraine into three different operational objectives, including stabilizing the eastern front with the goal of liberating the temporarily occupied territories.
The second component is the “gradual liberation” of the occupied areas in southern Ukraine and finally, preserving the security of the northern border.
“We understand that we cannot sacrifice one of these components and gamble and hope that nothing will happen. We have always been prepared for any turn of events because we know that we are facing a very unpredictable and deranged enemy,” Sak said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO officials have argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is not only an attack on Kyiv’s sovereignty but is a threat to the Western world.
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Sak said that for this reason, it is imperative that allied nations do not hold back in their military aid to Ukraine.
“We cannot allow this war to go into a frozen conflict,” he warned. “This will be like a time bomb. This will just give Russia time to regroup, to rearm and then strike again.
“This is a war that we have to win on the battlefield with the help of our international partners,” Sak said.