A Blog by Jonathan Low


Feb 23, 2023

How Ukraine Just Struck Russian Targets Over 50 Miles Behind Front Lines

Himars with conventional munitions can hit targets up to 43 miles (70km). But enhanced Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) which can be fired from Himars have been rumored to have been provided to Ukraine by the US - and they have a range of 94 miles. 

Most of the 11 targets hit were around Mariupol, which is 50 miles from the front. This suggests that Ukraine now has the capacity to attack Russian targets twice as far from the front as previously. JL

Marc Santora and Andrew Kramer report in the New York Times and Howard Altman reports in The Drive:

Ukraine found a way to hit deep behind enemy lines with a series of mysterious explosions in Mariuopol. Russian-occupied Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson regions were also hit. Mariupol was thought to be out of the range of U.S.-provided missiles in the nearest Ukrainian stronghold. But at least 11 explosions were reported. One of them destroyed a Russian ammunition warehouse. Those targets, 80 kilometers (@ 50 miles) away are outside the range of Himars at 43 miles (70 kilometers) or MLRS. A Ukrainian HIMARS  in Donetsk may have received GLSDB, with a range of 94 miles, or 150 kilometers.

Ukraine found a way to hit deep behind enemy lines with a series of mysterious explosions in Russian-held territory early Wednesday, even as Ukrainians themselves were warned that Moscow appears poised to unleash a new barrage of attacks.

Half a year after the southern port city of Mariupol fell to a fierce Russian siege, nearly a dozen explosions were reported there overnight into Wednesday. Russian-occupied areas of the Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson regions were also hit, according to reports and video.

What targets were struck was perhaps less intriguing than how Ukrainian forces had managed to hit them. After taking control of Mariupol in the spring, Moscow gradually turned the city into a major garrison, apparently because it was thought to be out of the range of powerful U.S.-provided missiles in the nearest Ukrainian stronghold, near the ruined mining town of Vuhledar.

But at least 11 explosions were reported Wednesday by the exiled City Council. One of them destroyed a Russian ammunition warehouse in the district near the airport, the council said.

It was not the first time explosions have been reported deep behind enemy lines during the war, but questions swirled on Wednesday about what had happened. In the past, the Ukrainians have used drones, special operators working behind enemy lines and a vast network of partisans loyal to Kyiv to wage war on the occupiers.


The Ukrainian General Staff said only that Ukraine’s air force had launched eight attacks on the temporary bases of Russian troops and two strikes on the positions of Russia’s antiaircraft missile systems. For Moscow’s part, the Russian-appointed local administrator in Mariupol claimed that everything was fine and said Russian air defenses had shot down two Ukrainian drones attacking the city overnight.

Explosions also sounded on Wednesday in Kharkiv, a Ukrainian city still under government control, as the authorities issued nationwide air alerts and warnings that Russia was planning a large-scale missile barrage timed to Friday’s anniversary of its invasion.

In Kharkiv, a half-dozen thunderous booms echoed through the city shortly before 11 a.m. It was not immediately clear what was hit. A few minutes later, an air alert was canceled.

There was no way to know whether the volley of missiles that hit the city was a prelude to a larger attack or simply more of the same. The city lies near the Russian border, and it is often struck by shorter-range missiles that cannot reach more distant cities such as Kyiv, the capital.

Taking no chances, the government has advised Ukrainian schools to operate remotely later this week.

The school system has already been upended because of the war. Schools struggled to operate during the major power outages caused by Russian strikes on critical infrastructure, and explosions have left many classrooms across Ukraine unusable. School officials said that Russian attacks have damaged 3,128 educational institutions, 441 of which are beyond repair.

Since October, Russia has launched volleys of missiles and exploding drones every week into Ukraine, mostly aimed at electrical plants, transmission lines and transformer substations. The goal is to knock out power and heat during the winter months, demoralizing the populace.

In recent days, with the start of the war’s anniversary nearing, the Ukrainians say they have detected stepped-up enemy activity, including frequent flights by Russian planes capable of launching missiles and balloons being floated over Ukraine, possibly as decoys to confuse air defenses.

In a war where civilian areas have often been targeted, tensions tend to increase around anniversaries and holidays.

In August, as Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day, a Russian missile strike hit a rail station east of the city of Dnipro, crushing passenger cars and setting them afire. At least 22 civilians were killed and 50 were wounded. And on New Year’s Eve, strikes rained down on Kyiv, killing one person and partially destroying a hotel.

Now, with the Kremlin staging celebrations of the war in Moscow, some analysts have suggested that Russia might soon fire a larger than typical barrage not just to mark the anniversary of the Feb. 24 invasion but to try to overshadow the military setbacks it has suffered in a year of war.

A barrage might also serve as a pointed rejoinder to the West, coming just days after Ukraine’s allies pledged to maintain their military support and President Biden made a surprise visit to Kyiv.

Kyiv has also been casting an anxious eye on Russian threats via two neighboring countries, Belarus and Moldova.

Experts say they appear to pose minimal immediate risks, and military analysts have expressed doubt about Russia’s ability to open and sustain a new front in the war. But Western officials warn that Moscow could try and divert Ukrainian resources through feints and deceptions — which could come from anywhere.

Still, the main thrust of Moscow’s offensive operations remains in eastern and southern Ukraine, where Russian forces are trying to break through Ukrainian defenses in five directions.

“Despite all the pressure on our forces, the front line has not changed,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late-night address on Tuesday.

Those targets, which are about 80 kilometers (nearly 50 miles) away from the nearest Ukrainian forces. That is just outside of the precision-guided munitions - that can hit targets out to around 43 miles (70 kilometers) - fired by M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) provided to Ukraine.


While it is possible Ukrainian forces could have pushed a HIMARS or M270 closer to Mariupol for the strikes, the distance from the front lines has led to speculation that Ukrainian troops used a new, longer-range munition.

On Tuesday, before any of these strikes took place, we reported that the pro-Russian Rybar Telegram channel claimed (without providing proof or saying how they knew) that "at least one" Ukrainian HIMARS crew in the Donetsk Oblast city of Bogatyr, “received" the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB).

With a range of around 94 miles, or 150 kilometers, the GLSDB can reach targets more than twice as far away as the munitions fired by the HIMARS and M270 and well within reach of Mariupol.


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villa rao said...

The recent military operation by Ukraine, striking Russian targets over 50 miles behind front lines, marks a significant escalation in the conflict. This bold move underscores Ukraine's determination and capability to engage in deep-strike operations, targeting key Russian military infrastructure far beyond immediate combat zones. Reports indicate precision strikes on ammunition depots and other strategic sites, demonstrating Ukraine's tactical agility and effective use of advanced weaponry. The operation reflects a strategic shift in Ukraine's defense strategy, aimed at disrupting Russian supply lines and logistics, potentially altering the dynamics of the ongoing conflict in the region.
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harsharose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
harsharose said...

It's impressive to see Ukraine taking the fight to Russia, targeting their assets over 50 miles beyond the front lines. This demonstrates their strategic thinking and willingness to retaliate against Russian aggression. It also shows that Ukraine is not backing down and is capable of striking deep into enemy territory. This will undoubtedly have an impact on the ongoing conflict and could shift the dynamics of the war. It's a bold move that showcases Ukraine's military capabilities and determination to defend its sovereignty.

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