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US begins training Ukrainian forces on advanced rocket system

A launch truck fires the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) at its intended target during the African Lion military exercise in Grier Labouihi complex, southern Morocco, June 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)
A launch truck fires the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) at its intended target during the African Lion military exercise in Grier Labouihi complex, southern Morocco, June 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

WASHINGTON — The US military has begun training Ukrainian forces on the sophisticated rocket systems that the Biden administration agreed last week to provide, but that Russia has said could trigger wider airstrikes in Ukraine.

Marine Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman, says Ukrainian troops are training on the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, at Grafenwoehr training base in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

The US agreed to send four of the medium-range, precision rocket systems to Ukraine as part of a $700 million package approved last week, and officials said it would take about three weeks of training before they could go to the battlefront.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Sunday that any Western deliveries of longer-range rocket systems would prompt Moscow to hit “objects that we haven’t yet struck.”

About 900 Ukrainian service members have received training on a variety of weapons by the US so far, including on howitzers which are being delivered to the front lines.

The HIMARS is mounted on a truck and can carry a container with six rockets, which can each travel about 45 miles (70 kilometers).

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