Way back in March, we were celebrating mud as a savior in Ukraine’s defense from Russia’s military onslaught. The headline, in fact, was “Let’s talk about mud, the greatest friend Ukraine ever had.”
Known locally as rasputitsa, Russia’s decision to wait for the Beijing Winter Olympics to end before launching their invasion was one of the most consequential decisions of this entire war—rather than attack over frozen ground, Russian armor and supply trucks got stuck in that unforgiving mud. By early March, the spring thaw was an active participant in the Battle of Kyiv—on the side of the Ukrainian victors.
After a dry summer, the mud is back, and it’s just as unforgiving. Except this time, it’s bedeviling both sides. Here is a look at the miserable conditions in a Russian camp near Svatove.
Just as we saw in the spring, entire tanks are getting swallowed in the mud. But this time, the advancing army is the Ukrainian one. And it’s Ukrainian tanks getting eaten:
Remember that video when you hear people say that tracked vehicles are better in these conditions than wheeled ones. Everything suffers in weather like this. Here are some Ukrainian wheeled vehicles flopping all over the place:
And more Ukrainian armor stuck in the mud:
Hummers are certainly not immune:
None of this is new to Ukraine.
All of this means that no one is moving much, anywhere. There’ll be a bunch of that “shaping the battlefield” stuff (hitting troop concentrations, supply depots, command and control centers, bridges, and logistical hubs) over the next month as everyone waits for the ground to freeze. It’s just not feasible to wage war from main roads, many of them a muddy mess anyway, after nine months of heavy armor and artillery shells shredding pavement. Too easy to target roads with artillery and set up ambushes—exactly as Ukraine did back in February and March.
Still, it looks like Ukraine has a new friend in its efforts to shape that battlefield.
This is double the range of HIMARS/MLRS rockets, and assuming this is all accurate, will dramatically complicate Russia’s logistical picture, forcing it to pull its main supply depots even farther from the front lines and rendering much of its rail network obsolete.
This is what the attack on Dzhankoi sounded like:
This is what I mean by “logistical hubs”:
There’s something to be said about Turkey providing longer-range rockets while the U.S. and the rest of NATO dither on long-range ATACMS rockets, particularly since Turkey has positioned itself as the chief negotiator between Ukraine and Russia.
That said, Turkey already imposed the grain corridor on Russia, asserting its will in a way that let Putin know who was the boss. This just puts an exclamation mark on Russia’s submission to Turkey, with major consequences for the regional balance of power for decades to come.