Russian Agent Spying on HIMARS Positions Detained in Ukraine: Kyiv

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) says it has captured a “Russian agent” who had apparently been spying on Ukrainian heavy artillery.

On Saturday the SBU posted four photographs to its official Twitter account showing a man being searched by two Ukrainian soldiers, the suspect being interrogated and then SBU agents looking through a phone.

They said: “The SBU detained a Russian agent who was spying on the positions of HIMARS and long-range M777 howitzers in the southern direction.”

The United States has given Ukraine 20 HIMARS, multiple launch rocket systems, since the Russian invasion began with another 18 pledged in September.

HIMARS, which can hit targets 50 miles away, have been used by Ukrainian forces to strike well behind the Russian front line, including targeting command posts and supply depots.

A US M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers fire salvoes in the Grier Labouihi region in Agadir, southern Morocco on June 21, 2022 during the “African Lion 2022” military exercise. Ukrainian soldiers have detained a suspected Russian spy (insert) who they believe was reporting on HIMARS positions.

Earlier this month U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin singled out HIMARS for praise during an interview with CNN, claiming they had “changed the dynamics” of Ukraine’s resistance to Putin’s invasion, and had “created an opportunity for the Ukrainians to maneuver.”

John Herbst, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told Newsweek HIMARS had been “decisive” on the battlefield.

He said: “I am confident that if we gave Ukraine most of what they’re asking for—they would be able, certainly within a year, year and a half—but maybe even in months, to take back everything Russia has seized since February, maybe even everything Russia has seized since the war began in 2014 with the exception of Crimea.”

The U.S., Canada and Australia have all provided M777 howitzers to Ukraine.

On Friday the U.S. announced another $275 million package of assistance for Ukraine, including more HIMARS ammunition, precision-guided 155mm rounds, 1,300 anti-tank weapons and over 2.7 million rounds of small arm ammunition.

In a statement Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “The United States will continue to stand with more than 50 allies and partners in support of the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence with extraordinary courage and boundless determination.”

On Saturday Russia admitted one of its minesweepers was damaged by an early morning attack on Sevastopol in Crimea, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based.

Russia’s defense ministry claimed the attack involved “nine unmanned aerial vehicles and seven autonomous maritime drones,” with Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev calling it the “most massive attack” on the city since the war began.

On Friday Nina Khrushcheva, great-granddaughter of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, told the BBC ordinary Russians are now braced for “something disastrous.”

The professor of international affairs, who teaches at New York’s New School, claimed many Russians are “frozen in despair” with “society getting more desperate.”

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s defense ministry for comment.

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James Bickerton