The revival of “rasputitsa” and what it means for Russia’s war in Ukraine


For centuries, Russia has relied on harsh winter weather to repel invaders. But when summer turns into autumn in Ukraine, the Russian army may find itself on the losing side of “Rasputitsa”. This is the wet and muddy season caused by spring thaw and heavy autumn rains.

Also known as the “General Mud” or “Martial Mud”, Rasputitsa is well known to military historians. During Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, French soldiers were unable to effectively retreat on the muddy country roads. More than a century later, during World War II, Adolf Hitler’s tanks and trucks splattered in waist-deep mud as he attempted to advance into Moscow. Towards the beginning of the invasion, Lyall said Rasputitsa “Four Horsemen of the Ukrainian Army”, alongside portable anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles.

ukrainian army

Ukrainian forces conduct a live-fire exercise near Kharkiv on February 10, 2022. (Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images)

When the Kremlin launched its brutal invasion in February, the question of how Rasputitsa would affect the battle plans of the invading Russian forces became a hot topic. Alyssa Demuth, a senior policy analyst at Rand Corporation, told Yahoo News in March that the Russian military could find navigating Ukrainian roads more difficult than expected. .

“They are either dirt roads or incredibly potholes,” Demus said of Ukrainian roads. “If you’re talking about moving heavy infrastructure and heavy equipment over long distances of this kind, a tank could destroy a well-built road to the west, depending on its weight, tread, and other factors. It’s important to remind people that

And a large number of photos spread on SNS abandoned russian tank In six months of invasion. To date, 315 of his tanks have been abandoned, according to open-source intelligence agency Oryx, though the cause of the abandonment is sometimes unknown.

But what if Rasputitsa comes in the fall? Yahoo News spoke to military strategist and retired Australian Army Maj.

DPR soldiers are seen in tanks targeting enemy positions near the city of Krasnohorivka in the village of Novoselovka 2, Yasinovatsky District, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, 13 December 2022.  (Anadolu His Agency via Leon Klein/Getty Images)

Donetsk People’s Republic soldiers target enemy positions near Krasnohorivka, Ukraine. (Anadolu Agency by Leon Klein/Getty Images)

“I don’t think fall will have the same impact as spring,” Ryan said. “If you look at the climate there, especially in Ukraine, where spring comes. [sees] Thaw—has a greater impact than fall, for example. I think it is unlikely that it will be autumn, not so much as spring. ”

Jane’s analysts told Yahoo News that autumn weather is likely to “slow the pace of war”, but they don’t expect it to have “the dramatic effect it had last spring.” agreed with

“Right now, Russians and Ukrainians are likely fighting over territory, believing that the land they took by the end of the summer will be safe from recapture during the winter, when the war is even more deadly. said a Jane’s analyst.

“As autumn came, life became increasingly difficult for the infantry, it became more difficult to supply the last mile on local fronts, and artillerymen found it difficult to move around to employ ‘shoot and scoot’ tactics. Become. This makes the use of artillery more dangerous for both sides. ”

Member of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces

A Ukrainian soldier stands on top of a damaged Russian tank outside the village of Nova Basan. (Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Analysts say both the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces will be cautious about driving vehicles off-road, preferring to sit still rather than risk getting their vehicles covered in mud.

But with just a few weeks to fall, are either side getting ready for Rasputitza? .

“Before trucks, you had carriages, horses and people, and they all had mud problems.