No one who lived in Central Europe remembers winter. From November to April, you can be pretty sure that every time you step out of your normally well-heated apartment building, you’re walking into what amounts to a freezer. It is this, perhaps, more than any other factor, that caused the recent events in Russia “strategic” bombing directed against Ukraine power supply undermine the will of the Ukrainian population to resist.

But Russia now seriously lacks high-precision missiles – the defenders of Ukraine are becoming increasingly successful when beating supplied by Iran Shahed-136 drones and other missiles – but too many of them penetrate. Ukrainian friends tell me that the atmosphere in Kyiv is tense but fiercely determined – with a booming market for small generators to compensate for expected blackouts. It will be very difficult for peaceful residents of Ukraine to survive the long winter.

But it will probably be much more difficult for the enemy’s troops. NATO has been planning for several months to ensure that their Ukrainian allies are as well equipped as possible. Canada weighed in from nearly half a million sets of winter gear taken from their modern and efficient military stocks. Other countries, including USA and Estonia followed their example.

Meanwhile, the army is not famous for anything maintenance or logistical efficiencybut is deservedly famous for its own corruptionRussian troops – including recently drafted soldiers from two or three weeks learning – will have to find ways to cope with the weather.

They also face the Ukrainian army, which, despite heavy losses, has all the momentum. As it was from the beginning of the war, decisive moral component war favors them. The fact that they are defending their homeland – and now reclaiming it – is at least as relevant now as it was before. in February.

They have an advantage high-precision artilleryprobably Art tanks and, of course, in leadership morale and training.

Slow season

Despite all this, the pace of hostilities is likely to decrease as Ukraine approaches winter. Practically providing reasonable heat in temperatures that are often below -20℃ is time-consuming. Even with the best equipment, winter field conditions in Central and Eastern Europe are grueling. Trying to maintain or repair unwilling machines, cleaning rifles, and even just standing guard becomes difficult with frozen hands.

Civilians need to be warm even in winter.
EPA-EFE/Sergei Dovzhenka

Trenches are as necessary now as they were in 1914 or 1941 to protect troops from artillery and automatic fire – and digging them is difficult enough without dealing with frozen ground. Hundreds of thousands of infantry soldiers on both sides fight in exactly the same conditions – trenches and dugouts – as those facing their grandfathers and great-grandfathers in two world wars. one NATO waiter in Brussels, told reporters that: “When you fight in these conditions, when your tank keeps getting stuck, when it keeps dropping its tracks, and you’re cold and wet all the time, it affects what we would call the morale of the army.” .

It is, indeed. Effectively fighting and moving in the harsh winter conditions we see in Ukraine requires a lot experience and training. In freezing weather, everything takes longer. This is especially true for the key element of logistics. Transporting essential supplies of food and ammunition takes longer as trucks slide on frozen roads, break down or get stuck in snow or mud. In such conditions, fast armored warfare becomes much more difficult.

Mike Martin, Senior Research Fellow, King’s College London, a leading commentator about the war in Ukraine and a former infantry officer told me that: “The Ukrainian style of warfare is built around maneuver, which requires speed and agility. Both are much more difficult to achieve in winter.” So we are likely to see a slowdown in the momentum of the conflict – certainly in the deep winter months of December to February.

The path to escalation

By then, Ukrainian forces in the south will be pushing to capture the dam and bridge at Nova Khakava – if they don’t destroyed by Russia the first – to advance on the approaches to Kherson. This will be the place Crimea itself is in their sights. In the east, they are likely to hold their positions against Mercenary troops of Russia around the key city of Bakhmut, along which passes the road that provides Russia’s long-term goals — Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.

Meanwhile, Russia is issuing regular threats of escalation, including the possibility of using nuclear weapons. More recently, this escalation has taken the rather absurd form of claims that Ukraine will take the first steps on this particular path with the so-called “dirty bomb“. A serious threat to life, they are more a holdover from Cold War movies than any reflection of current military reality. This is an unreliable weapon, not a “weapon of mass destruction” by any means, but “weapons of mass destruction” because the mess they leave behind takes years to clean up. Nevertheless, NATO takes these threats seriously.

Meanwhile, the war is going down – step by step, not very carefully escalation path. For the first time in 80 years, the 101st Airborne Division (known as the Band of Brothers) moved its headquarters to Europe along with nearly 5,000 troops. Their headquarters is very close by Border of Romania with Ukraine. The division conducts realistic training alongside Romanian troops, clearly aimed at intervening in the war. As commander of the 101st Brigade Combat Team, Col. Edwin Mathides put it down: “We are building exercise tasks that exactly replicate what is happening in Ukraine.”

So, if “General Winter” could bring with it a slowdown in operational tempo, the pressure is mounting dangerously on all sides.