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Monday, May 14, 2018

Ukrainian Militants Present New Rocket Launchers

Ukrainian militants have revealed a new self-propelled multiple launch rocket system (MLRS), apparently produced locally.

This month, the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DNR), a separatist movement controlling part of eastern Ukraine, unveiled a new MLRS dubbed 'Cheburashka', after a children's cartoon. The self-propelled system, based on what Defence Blog reported was a KrAZ-260 chassis, carries 64 barrels, as seen in video and photo releases. These are divided between two separate units, which each have 32 barrels.

The Cheburashka MLRS utilizes 217mm rockets which can reach distances of 9,600 meters, according to a display accompanying the system. Sputnik International referenced Alexander Zakharchenko, who leads the DNR, as noting that the system has been tested 'in combat conditions'. According to Zakharchenko, the DNR has worked to develop and produce its own military systems as part of its efforts to maintain the DNR's de facto autonomy from Kiev. Ukraine's government has often accused Russia of providing arms to the militants, which Moscow denies, but locally-producing equipment in separatist territory would reduce the militants' overall dependency on Russia for their military supplies.

The Ukrainian militants also showed off another vehicle which carries two 324mm unguided rockets, also able to reach distances of up to 9,600 meters. It is not immediately clear how many of either system have been produced and entered service.

Ukraine has been locked in a stalemate with separatist forces after fighting broke out in 2014. The militants, backed by Russia, were able to capture the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, in particular, and establish autonomous governance. Though the two sides are under a ceasefire, periodic violations of the ceasefire have resulted in casualties on both sides.

Kiev and the separatists regularly trade accusations of the other violating the ceasefire.

Artillery, especially rocket systems, have proved to be key acquisition focuses for both the Ukrainian military and separatist forces.

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