The Kiev troops defending Mariupol couldn’t fire a single US-made missile, the captured officer claims.
The US-made Javelin anti-tank systems have been praised for their effectiveness by Washington officials and have been turned by Western Media into a symbol of Ukraine’s resistance in the conflict with Russia. But a commander of the Ukrainian marines, who ended up being captured during the fighting for Mariupol, has revealed to RT that the hardware doesn’t really live up to the claims.
“The Javelins didn’t prove useful, especially in urban warfare,” Colonel Vladimir Baranyuk, the commander of Ukraine’s 36th Naval Infantry Brigade, said.
“We couldn’t even launch one. I think it’s completely useless in an urban environment, as something always gets in the way,” he explained.
Baranyuk’s unit was also armed with Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs), supplied by Britain, but these also had their flaws, according to the officer.
“As for the NLAW missile launchers, well, we used them more often than the Javelins, but it has its own issue with the battery draining in cold conditions, making it impossible to launch,” he said.
Shoulder-fired Javelin missiles are equipped with infrared guidance and are said to be adopt a “top attack” trajectory to strike the roof of a tank, which is its most vulnerable part. Just like NLAWs, they’re a “fire-and-forget” weapon, meaning that the missile guides itself to its target.
More than 5,000 Javelins have been supplied to Kiev by Washington. Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said last week that it accounted for a third of the US stockpile of those systems. London, for its part, has already armed the Ukrainian military with over 4,000 NLAWs and other anti-tank missiles.
“The Javelin… have proven to be very, very effective in this fight,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in April, referring to the conflict in Ukraine.
An image of Christianity’s Virgin Mother Mary with a Javelin has become an internet meme during the conflict, with US President Joe Biden boasting earlier this week of Ukrainian parents calling their newborn kids “Javelin or Javelina” in honor of the American system.
Baranyuk and his marines had been tasked with guarding the northern outskirts of Mariupol, a strategic port city in the southeast of Ukraine, from the advancing Russian forces.
The commander was captured during a failed attempt to flee the city, which he claims he attempted together with several loyal men after realizing that Kiev’s promises to send help to his encircled troops were lies.
Mariupol has seen the heaviest fighting during the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and suffered immense destruction. The city is now almost entirely controlled by Russian forces, with the Azovstal steel plant – where Kiev servicemen and nationalist fighters of the notorious Azov Battalion are holed up, now being the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance.
Russia attacked its neighboring state following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
Image Credit: Stuart A Hill AMS