HIMARS: U.S. Sends More Advanced Rocket Systems To Ukraine To Further Slow Russian Advance In East

The United States says it will send more long-range multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine as Kyiv's forces prepare for a slow Russian advance to grab more territory in the eastern Donbas region.

The U.S. weapons package announced on July 8 will include four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, known as HIMARS, bringing to 12 the total number of these systems sent to Ukraine since last month.

The announcement came after Russia’s top diplomat clashed with his Western counterparts at a G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, and after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that continued sanctions against Russia could lead to catastrophic energy price increases for European households.

Russia’s ambassador to Britain, meanwhile, painted a bleak prospect for the war ending soon, predicting Russian troops would capture the rest of the Donbas in eastern Ukraine and were unlikely to withdraw from land across the southern coast.

Ukraine would eventually have to strike a peace deal or "continue slipping down this hill" to ruin, Ambassador Andrei Kelin told Reuters in London.

Russia is likely concentrating its equipment in the direction of Siversk, about 8 kilometers west of the current front line, Britain's Defense Ministry said.

Russian forces are likely pausing now to replenish before undertaking new offensive operations in the Donetsk region, while Ukrainian troops were preparing to push back another assault, the ministry said.

On the Donbas front lines, the Ukrainian military reported Russian shelling of towns and villages ahead of an anticipated push for more territory.

Civilian and military infrastructure was hit in towns near Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, while shelling continued along the contact line in eastern Ukraine, a report from the Ukrainian military's General Staff said on July 8.

WATCH: Oleksandr Kraskivskyi, head of the village of Zamhlay in Ukraine's Chernihiv region, says he tried to reason with occupying Russian troops but he ended up being bound, beaten, and held captive. Kraskivskyi believes he survived after explaining that he had served with the Soviet Army in Afghanistan.

Russia is conducting defensive operations in the Kharkiv direction and is trying to improve the tactical position in certain areas, the report said. The shelling of Kharkiv and its surroundings, as well as other populated areas of the region, continued.

The aid announced by the United States on July 8 is the 15th package of military weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine from U.S. Defense Department stocks since last August.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff on July 8 urged the West to send more heavy weapons to counter what he called Russia's "scorched-earth tactics."

"With a sufficient number of howitzers, SPG, and HIMARS, our soldiers are able to stop and drive the invaders from our land," Andriy Yermak tweeted.

Russia has accused the West of waging a proxy war against it by stepping up the supply of advanced weapons to Ukraine and by imposing economic sanctions.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, in comments that contrasted with those of the Russian ambassador to Britain, said he believes the war will end through one of three scenarios -- a negotiated settlement, a long drawn out war of attrition, or the collapse of the Russian Federation.

Speaking at a conference on July 8, Reznikov said in the case of the first scenario, before negotiations could take place the two sides would withdraw to the positions they held on February 24, the day Russia started its invasion.

The talks would cover the status of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and Crimea.

“And we will conduct these negotiations at the table with our powerful partners. There will definitely be no Minsk 3,” he said, a reference to unsuccessful German-French efforts to find a peaceful solution with Russia after Russia-back separatists first seized parts of the Donbas and Crimea in 2014.

“There will be no capitulation agreements, and no one will negotiate with a gun held at their temple," he said.

WATCH: Harrowing scenes in Kharkiv as Ukrainian officials say at least three people were killed and five were injured after Russian shells hit residential areas on July 7.

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The announcement of the U.S. arms delivery comes amid reports that Ukraine has used HIMARS delivered thus far to successfully strike Russian locations deeper behind the front lines and disrupt Russia's ability to conduct artillery operations, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters.

Ukraine's forces have used them to attack targets such as ammunition dumps, hitting them with guided missiles launched from farther away, out of range of Russian artillery. They have not used them to strike outside of Ukraine, the official added.

The official acknowledged that Russian forces recently made progress in eastern Ukraine, seizing more territory, but called it “very incremental, limited, hard-fought, highly costly progress” and said it was in “certain, select small spaces in the Donbas.”

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

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Key Words: Ukraine, Russia, U.S. Arms, HIMARS Missiles

File Photo of HIMARS Mobile Missile Launch adapted from .mil image