Putin finds a scapegoat in the US HIMARS and builds a case for war with the West

russian president Vladimir Putin has worked for months to build its case that the US is waging a “proxy war” in Ukraine, and now Moscow says US-made HIMARS rocket systems prove its point.

Long-range systems, which have better accuracy and a faster rate of fire than Ukraine’s antiquated artillery, have fueled their efforts and limited Russia’s military gains. But while Ukraine touts the weapon’s success, experts say it has inadvertently bolstered Putin’s propaganda among the Russian people and given the leader a scapegoat for Russia’s failures on the battlefield.

Brian Taylor, a professor of Russian politics at Syracuse University, said news week that Putin has used the success of HIMARS (an acronym for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) to accuse the United States of being directly involved in the Ukraine war. This is part of his strategy to tap into a “deeply entrenched” internal narrative that Russia is at war not only with Ukraine but also with the West, Taylor said.

Responding to comments by Ukrainian intelligence officials about US-Ukrainian information sharing, Russia’s Defense Ministry said last week: “All this undeniably proves that Washington, contrary to the White House and Pentagon claims, is directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine”.

The ministry added: “It is the Biden administration that is directly responsible for all Kyiv-approved rocket attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure facilities in settlements in Donbas and other regions that have caused mass civilian deaths.”

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Experts say the US-supplied HIMARS rocket systems have bolstered Russian President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda and given him a scapegoat for Russia’s battlefield failures in Ukraine. Above, Putin during a June 29 press conference in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.
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The Pentagon has delivered a dozen rocket systems to Ukrainian forces and another four are on the way. the weapon has been widely praised by senior Ukrainian officials. On Monday, the mayor of the southeastern city of Melitopol said Russia “can no longer resist HIMARS” in an announcement that said more than 100 Russian soldiers were killed by attacks involving the rocket systems.

“Since HIMARS started working in Ukraine, in Melitopol, we have destroyed many Russian positions.” he said news week.

Michael Kimmage, a former member of the US secretary of state’s policy planning staff, said it’s “not that far from the truth” to say that the US is directly involved in the war. Along with the sophisticated weaponry provided by the US, which is credited with helping to turn the tide of the conflict, Secretary of Defense lloyd austinThe comment that the goal of US policy is to weaken Russia by helping Ukraine could easily be framed by Moscow as “forward-leaning,” Kimmage said. news week.

He added that providing HIMARS to Ukraine not only promotes the message that the war is Russia against the West; it also helps Putin build the case that Russia was pushed into the conflict by Western powers. “That Russia was left with no choice and that the West uses Ukraine, as it has historically, according to Putin, to weaken Russia,” Kimmage said.

news week has contacted the US Department of Defense for comment.

As Putin uses the effectiveness of US weaponry to justify his invasion, he has also used it to explain the strength of the Ukrainian resistance.

Kimmage said the more Russia points an accusing finger at Washington, the easier it is for Putin to excuse why his troops haven’t won the war as quickly as he had anticipated. Because he has said that Ukraine is not a real country, it is difficult for him to defend his poor performance in his war against such a supposedly weak nation. Therefore, positioning Russia “eye to eye with the world’s preeminent superpower” gives the Russian leader a way to explain why the conflict has gone the way it has, with less embarrassment, Kimmage said.

And as much as Putin wants to present the “Western boogeyman” narrative, the Russian public is ready to hear it, said Yuri Zhukov, an associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan.

“It is much easier to believe that things are not going well because of US meddling than because of Ukraine’s determination,” he said.

Lawrence Reardon, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said that despite Putin’s messages, complaints like HIMARS’s are proof that “Russian forces are now suffering.”

“The Ukrainian government and military have a very sophisticated understanding of Russian military tactics and have shown exceptional ability to deal with the invaders,” Reardon said.

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