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Editor Note: Kris Osborn was recently interviewed by Deutsche Welle (DW). Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster and one of the most successful and relevant international media outlets. DW provides journalistic content in 32 languages, giving people worldwide the opportunity to form their own opinions. In 2021 DW reaches a new high of 289 million user contacts a week – an increase of 40 million (16 percent) from last year. Online offerings overtake TV formats for the first time. DW’s online services account for 122 million weekly user contacts. The strongest online platforms are Facebook and YouTube. TV usage reaches 117 million contacts per week and radio usage remains stable at 50 million.
The original article can be found here.
DW: Ukraine urgently asks the United States to hand over long-range missile systems. However, Washington is in no hurry to make a decision. DW asked military columnist Kris Osborn what their advantages were and why Moscow was so afraid of them.
The Russian army continues a brutal offensive in the Donbass, fighting is underway for Severodonetsk. In order to counter aggression more effectively, Ukraine is asking the United States to install M270 MLRS and HIMARS multiple rocket launchers as soon as possible. The media reported that Washington was "inclined" to comply with this request in the near future. However, on Monday, May 30, US President Joe Biden made it clear that Washington would not supply Ukraine with missile systems capable of hitting targets in Russia. Whether Ukraine could get these systems in simpler modifications is currently unknown.
Moscow has previously called the possible supply of US MLRS to Ukraine a "red border" and promised to "give an answer" in the case of supplies of such complexes to Kiev. DW spoke with Washington military analyst Kris Osbornabout the operational benefits of these weapons and why they would be able to turn the tide of hostilities in Ukraine's favor.
Mr. Osborn, what are the technical characteristics of these long-range systems and how, if they enter Ukraine, could they change the situation on the battlefield?
Kris Osborn: It is interesting that the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in an interview with CNN invited MLRS 270 a few months ago, at the very beginning of this conflict. In my opinion, there are several tactical and strategic reasons why the supply of these weapons is of real astronomical importance, changing the whole paradigm of hostilities.
Ukraine is trying to stop the indiscriminate shelling carried out by Russia from mobile volley fire systems from the Russian side of the border. Russia has this opportunity due to the fact that the range of weapons in its arsenal reaches 200-300 miles (320-480 km. - Ed. ). And this situation has been going on for a long time.
Of course, Ukraine would like to have air defense systems such as Patriot systems . But the Pentagon says American instructors should teach Ukrainians how to operate these systems. At the same time, of course, they do not want to send instructors to the territory of Ukraine. I do not know whether such training could take place somewhere on the eastern flank (NATO - Ed. ), This is an interesting question in itself. One way or another, Patriot systems are necessary for defense.
As for MLRS systems, it is difficult to say to what extent they can be used against partially mobile Russian mobile targets, but their receipt would have an extraordinary effect. Now Ukrainians have Javelin and Stinger systems with a range of close range, only a couple of miles. They are very effective. There was a lot of talk in the press about them breaking through armor and shooting down helicopters in the air. Also, Ukrainians now have artillery with a range of about 30 kilometers. This is also very important. But MLRS systems, at least in the early version, have a range of 70 kilometers. The army is now developing and guided missile systems with GPS guidance.
So, from a tactical point of view, with MLRS systems, Ukrainians can fire from a distance of 70-80 kilometers, destroying (Russian - Ed. ) Launchers. Destruction of residential areas, deaths of children in Ukraine occurred due to Russian rocket attacks. Therefore, if it is not possible to intercept them in the air, the answer should be long-range rocket-propelled grenade launchers. I am not surprised that President Zelensky is asking for them. By the way, if Ukraine had such systems at its disposal, it would be possible to immediately stop or reduce the intensity of the deadly volley fire.
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DW: To what extent are Russian air defense systems like the S-300 and S-400 ready to withstand American MLRS?
Kris Osborn: This is a very interesting question. From the Russian side, it is believed that the S-300, S-400, and S-500, which is under development, for several reasons are among the best in the world: they are united by a network of digital processors, have a higher computer speed. data processing and can identify the target over long distances and at different frequencies. Therefore, the danger from these systems is quite significant. At the same time, there have been technological advances in the creation of mobile guns that can change the trajectory of flight after launch. Therefore, I think that the statement that these air defense systems are impenetrable is not true. Especially when it comes to the characteristics of high-precision weapons. Not to mention the development of reconnaissance equipment (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance), sensors that can confuse air defense systems.
DW: The Office of the President of Ukraine has previously stated that these American systems will allow Ukraine to unblock the Black Sea, which would finally make it possible to restore the world's critical export of Ukrainian grain . How do you assess this perspective?
Kris Osborn: We know that Ukrainians have Neptune anti-ship missiles. Despite numerous security reports, the Pentagon did not confirm their use for obvious security reasons. In addition, the Pentagon wants Ukrainians to control the tactical use of such weapons against the Russians.
In any case, many facts confirm that the Ukrainians sank Russian ships with long-range cruise missiles launched from the Ukrainian coastline. This is a very significant fact. Of course, MLRS systems can also be used against ships. This is a very interesting question, as the US military is increasingly working on "Multi-domain Operations", which include, for example, the use of ground-based weapons against ships, which can be used from the water. There are now many innovations that are increasingly threatening moving goals. However, it is unclear in which MLRS in which modifications could be delivered to Ukraine. But even in their older versions, they will be extremely effective. So GMLRS systems, those equipped with GPS, were already used during the operation "
It is worth saying a few words about HIMARS systems. These systems have a range of 200-300 miles. With drones and in the presence of the necessary intelligence, this allows you to hit launchers, mobile devices or even launch missile strikes on the base concentration of troops at a long distance. This completely changes the course of the fighting! After all, then you are not in a zone of high risk and intense fire.
Earlier, the Pentagon said that Russia used medium-range and short-range missiles. Extremely outrageous, in my view, is that Russia has high-precision guided weapons, as is known from open sources. They had every technological opportunity to use these weapons for surgical strikes on specific military targets. Instead, civilian areas were hit with inaccurate weapons, killing children . Given their arsenal of weapons, it seems to me that this was a conscious choice and it can not help but worry.
DW: Earlier, the media reported that Washington was hesitant about final decisions on the transfer of these weapons to Ukraine , fearing that Moscow would interpret this as an " escalation " of the conflict. How close do you think the United States is to resolving this issue?
Kris Osborn: Lockheed Martin Corporation reports that it has 14 international partners in the MLRS project. And that, in fact, echoes what Pentagon spokesman John Kirby often says. Discussions on the aid package to Ukraine are multinational, and NATO's unity, as many commentators point out, is unprecedented, and there is significant cooperation in general. For example, if the United States does not have something specific that Ukraine needs, then perhaps allies in Eastern Europe, such as Soviet tanks, can help. So Germany sent anti-tank weapons, even Stinger systems. In other words, there are joint efforts, and the Pentagon is constantly emphasizing this.
As for escalation, this is a great question. The Pentagon is being very careful. John Kirby was recently asked again about the supply of HIMARS and MLRS systems to Ukraine, and he said that discussions on this are ongoing, and did not provide details. This is quite typical: the Pentagon does not want to talk about what has not yet been decided or on topics on which there are certain security concerns. This is a normal and understandable practice all over the world. But Kirby was asked about the escalation, and I want to emphasize that he did not link it to the MLRS. He spoke in a general context, saying that the Pentagon was paying attention to the balance of escalation in supplies. It should be reminded here that the United States refused to mediate in the transfer of Polish fighters to Ukraine or to talk about a no-fly zone. US President Joe Biden has made it very clear that we do not want a third world war. At the same time, we want to give maximum support to Ukraine. Of course, there is interest in avoiding escalation, especially given nuclear threats to President Putin. But there is also a great desire to help Ukraine, which has simply conquered the world with unexpected determination and readiness to fight. And it brings results.
Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.