Russia is about to face Ukraine’s infamous mud again

The wreckage of Russian military vehicles destroyed by Ukrainian Forces during a counterattack in the Kharkiv region, lies in the mud in a forest on September 22, 2022 in Izium, Ukraine.

Global Image Ukraine | Getty Images News | beautiful pictures

Ukraine and many Western analysts believe Russia is preparing to launch a new, large-scale attack but is likely to encounter a familiar obstacle: mud.

Freezing ground conditions in Ukraine are expected to give way to a thaw in the coming weeks, turning the fields and rural roads of the war-torn nation into bogs for troops and vehicles. increase.

The mud season in Ukraine is so notorious that it has a name, “rasputitsa” — a reference to the season that arrives in late autumn and early spring — and it has surprised many armies for centuries, since the Great War. Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Russia in 1812, which was famously slowed by mud in Ukraine, in front of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces floundering in muddy conditions when they invaded the then-Soviet Union in 1941. .

Despite its notoriety and annual occurrence, the mud still surprised Russian forces after they invaded Ukraine last February with pictures and online footage showing Russian tanks and armored vehicles. trapped and abandoned in the mud, much to Ukraine’s satisfaction. Needless to say, however, the force itself is not immune to this problem.

Ukrainian servicemen push a car stuck in mud on a makeshift road in the frontline in the Donetsk region, on December 17, 2022, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Genya Savilov | afp | beautiful pictures

While the war has changed since this past muddy spring — with Russia now concentrating its forces on a large-scale offensive, expected to focus on the complete occupation of eastern Ukraine ( and potentially including Zaporizhzhia in southern and northeastern Kharkiv) — the arrival of spring is expected to bring familiar challenges for both sides, as well as unknowns surrounding the direction of the conflict.

“Weather continues to play an important role in Russia’s war in Ukraine,” the British Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.

“With the ground frozen, there is likely to be little change in cross-country movement (CCM) conditions in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks,” it said in an intelligence update on Twitter.

Over the next week, however, projections show that rising land temperatures and snowmelt are likely to impair cross-country mobility across the Donbas, the ministry noted.

“Cross-country mobility could be at its worst, with extremely muddy conditions, in mid- to late-March. Commanders on both sides will most likely seek to avoid planning for maneuvers. major attacks at such times,” the Defense Ministry noted.

“However, perceived operational or political opportunities may outweigh such concerns, as demonstrated by Russia launching its invasion in late February 2022.”

change war

Some Western observers argue that the cold winter in Ukraine will provide an opportunity for both Russian and Ukrainian forces to regroup and rearm in the face of spring attacks, but fighting is still fierce, especially especially in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine.

Analysts say Russia will launch a new, large-scale attack within the next few weeks and may find a way to profit before the “rasputitsa” kicks in.

Max Hess, a fellow at the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies, notes that “rasputitsa” in the spring is more challenging than in the fall because it becomes “more difficult for the means and materials to move around.” transitioning through the thawing of frozen earth and snow.”

“That said, the current condition of the facades is quite different from what was seen in late fall with rows fortified over the winter,” he told CNBC on Thursday.

A soldier walks through mud to a church destroyed by fighting on September 24, 2022 in Kharkiv region.

Global Image Ukraine | Getty Images News | beautiful pictures

Ukraine has urgent, urgent problems to deal with before the mud comes in when their forces observe Russian forces approaching and besieging the Donetsk city of Bakhmut slowly but surely. The city is currently in a precarious position although Ukraine has vowed to continue fighting, but now the question of whether it will withdraw its forces has become prominent.

“The main Russian offensive at the moment is around Bakhmut, where they have lost thousands of soldiers to what is at best a small victory in terms of tactics and propaganda benefits. Attacks there also. as at several other points along the line of control in Donetsk.. .mostly infantry attacks on fortified positions so these positions will not be affected too much by rasputitsa and officials Russia shows no sign of allowing attacks to subside,” Hess noted.

A Ukrainian oil tanker nears an undisclosed frontline position in eastern Ukraine on November 28, 2022, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Yevhen Titov | afp | beautiful pictures

“Bakhmut is in danger of falling to the Russian attacks of recent days on the towns of Chasiv Yar and Ivanivske that control its vital supply routes from Kostyatynivka,” warned Hess.

“While the weather means it’s even less likely that Russia can take advantage of the potential gains in Bakhmut by then breaking through Ukraine’s lines to the west, I don’t think that will affect the willing to engage in such heavy infantry attacks,” he noted.


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