The Lugansk People's Republic claims at least one missile was fired from a US-made multiple launch rocket system
US-supplied ?142 HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems have already been used by the Ukrainian military in Donbass, the authorities in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) reported on Tuesday.
On their Telegram channel, the LPR's representatives from the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination on ceasefire and stabilization of the demarcation line (JCCC) posted a message that read, "shelling has been detected from the positions of Ukrainian armed groups: at 7:20AM ... using the ?142 HIMARS (1 missile)."
This is the first time the local authorities have reported that the US-supplied systems have been used in combat.
Taking to Facebook on Saturday, the chief of Ukraine's General Staff, Valery Zaluzhny, wrote: "Multiple rocket launcher M142 HIMARS are already working in the interest of Ukraine's defense." He added that Ukrainian troops "skillfully hit certain targets - military targets of the enemy on our, Ukrainian, territory."
Zaluzhny also posted a two-minute video clip, said to show how the pro-Kiev forces operate the long-range rocket system.
The arrival of several M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System units in Ukraine was also confirmed last Thursday by Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov. In a Twitter post, he expressed his gratitude to "colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools!"
Also on Thursday, acting Pentagon press secretary Todd Breasseale revealed that Washington would send Kiev four more HIMARS systems, in addition to the four already delivered.
On top of that, Britain is shipping three tracked M270 MLRS systems, while Germany has pledged to contribute another three.
Ukrainian officials, however, insist they need far more weapons to achieve parity with Russia's forces.
Plans to deliver the four HIMARS units were announced by US President Joe Biden in early June. According to media reports, the White House had initially been concerned that Ukrainian forces could hit targets inside Russia with the help of these long-range systems, which could be construed as further escalation by Moscow. The US said it would provide GMLRS guided rockets with the systems, which have a range of 32-60km. The HIMARS platform can also fire a single guided missile with a range of up to 300km, but the US has not yet provided Ukraine with these projectiles.
Following the announcement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, the "Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory."
However, several senior Ukrainian officials have since said that Kiev reserves the right to use US-supplied weapons on targets in Crimea, which both Ukraine and Russia consider part of their own territory.
The peninsula became a Russian region following a referendum in 2014, in which the vast majority voted for reunification with Russia after the Maidan coup in Kiev.