A heavy artillery weapon that’s been described as a “museum piece” is the latest addition to Ukraine’s arsenal in the war against Russia.
President Zelenskyy has been provided with a wide range of advanced weaponry by the UK and other NATO countries, but the Ukrainian military is using anything and everything it can find in its bid to repel the invaders.
One of the “antique” weapons that’s been pulled out of mothballs is an old Soviet 240 mm mortar.
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The M240 is a 240 millimetre (9.4 inch) breech-loading smooth-bore heavy mortar that can accurately fire a 290 lb projectile at targets up to six miles away.
Serviced by a crew of 10, the M240 is not exactly a nimble beast. It needs to be towed by a heavy tractor, and can only fire around one round per minute.
However, the sheer power of its shells, dropping vertically onto a target, can obliterate most defensive bunkers.
It can also fire the feared Sayda incendiary shell.
The Cold War era weapon was seen being used by the Ukrainian navy’s 35th Marine Brigade stationed near Marinka in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
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It’s not know what kind of ammunitions the Ukrainians are using for the mortar, but according to recent reports they had captured a stock of Russian 240-millimeter mortar bombs during their surprise northern counteroffensive in September 2022.
Prior to one other sighting in that same month reports Eurasian Times, the only example of the giant mortar that had been seen in Ukraine was “in a museum in Kyiv”.
Observers believe that the weapon seen in Donbas had either been retrieved from a military museum, or could possibly have been loaned from another former Soviet Bloc country such as Romania or the Czech Republic.
The weapon saw service in Afghanistan, when the Soviet Union battled against the Mujahideen, and again in the Syrian Civil War when Russian troops were sent to bolster forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The massive destruction the M240 caused in Syria led to an outcry from Human Rights Watch, who protested that Russia’s indiscriminate shelling or civilian populations amounted to a war crime.
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