A more or less placid winter that allows its citizens to alleviate the effects of the Russian energy siege… or a harsh, icy winter that makes the ill-prepared invading soldiers freeze in their positions waiting for a hot meal, a proper team? That is right now dilemma facing the Ukrainian government. Basically, what we are experiencing these days is a double war within the same conflict: the confrontation between soldiers, where sooner or later the Ukrainians end up prevailing, and the cruelty against civilians, where the situation is increasingly precarious.
The thoughtful plan of Surovikin and Putin to “freeze to death” millions of ordinary citizens to force Zelensky into a truce that is not beneficial to their interests is the best example of why Russia deserves to be on the list of countries sponsoring terrorism recently updated by the European Union. With these attacks on energy nerve centers, Russia does not advance a meterbut it ensures that there is no electricity or heating in practically all of Ukraine, that operations are carried out with flashlights and that, probably, when the cold really hits, millions of Ukrainians flee to the west and fill the rest of Europe with a new wave of refugees.
Now, it is a strategy with a clear reverse: trusting that the cold, the famous General Winter who could at the time with Napoleon and Hitler (although not with the Finns in 1940, on the contrary), requires being in a position to benefit from that extreme cold and take advantage of it. There are serious doubts that this is the case in Russia. While the European Union and NATO are sending hundreds of thousands of winter kits to warm Ukrainian troops on the front lines, complaints about the poor quality of Russian kits continue to multiply on social media.
The problem of fleeing the cities
In this sense, Russia has made several mistakes that it may end up paying for if winter worsens and temperatures drop to extreme levels. To begin with, as we said, it has sent hundreds of thousands of inexperienced men to the front, it has even allowed the Wagner Group to recruit convicts, but it has not given them the necessary protective equipment. If one puts all the factors together – inferior numbers, inferior weapons, less ability to fight the cold and much less motivation in the fight – it is logical that the Ukrainians, in their dilemma, end up opting for a harsh winter for them, but also for the enemy.
Because, after all, the movement of their troops will always be “inside”, that is, they are units that are easy to replace, with multiple supply lines that are very difficult to cut. They have guaranteed supplies in the big cities – they control all of them except Mariupol, Melitopol, Donetsk Y lugansk– while the Russian army has to move its troops and supplies “outside”, that is, covering huge territories and with few active sources. If you want to send hot food and drinks or more clothes to the front of Kherson on the other side of the Dnieper, they will be forced to do so from Mariupol, hundreds of kilometers away, or directly from the Crimea, where damage to the Kerch bridge has been slowing down these shipments for a few weeks.
For this reason, it can be said that the second serious mistake of the Russians in the face of winter has been precisely to abandon the big cities and all the advantages they provide to those who inhabit them. Multitude of buildings to house your troops, warehouses and factories where to protect the tanks and other weapons from the cold and so on. It is understood that the withdrawals have to do precisely with the decision to sabotage the electricity supply, but in the end it forces its own soldiers -we insist, in large part, citizens who were in an office or a farm two months ago- to subsist in the open , in the middle of the field.
The sad scene of last winter
This second mistake quickly leads us to a third: Russia has taken so long to establish a fixed front of defense that it appears to have done so at the wrong time. In recent weeks, we have seen several images of huge trenches laid out for tens of kilometers in several waves to prevent the advance of Ukrainian troops. What will become of those trenches when they fill with mud, water and snow? Who will protect them when it freezes? The Dnieper is not the Somme. Ukraine is not France. Who is going to heroically resist the bombardment of positions without enough means to warm up and without a clear objective to fight for?
If the winter is harsh and the ground levels out with ice, progress will be easier. Russian advances? Unlikely. The fourth Russian error has to do with the obsoleteness of their vehicles and their tactics. Already in February, in the middle of winter, it was verified in the vicinity of kyiv that its armored vehicles had the reliability of a Fernando Alonso car. Images of abandoned tanks in the middle of nowhere, unable to move forward or back and causing a traffic jam for miles are part of the history of military strategy infamy.
We have to understand, therefore, that here the ice would favor Ukraine, with more modern weapons and a greater capacity to replace parts and units thanks to Western aid. This would allow them not to lose the current inertia and maintain the initiative in combat. Indeed, a harsh winter would cause horrifying images in cities and towns, but the cold is nothing new for a population that has suffered for generations and that, moreover, relies on itself. When you fight for your freedom, chilblains itch less.
Which brings us to the fifth and final Russian mistake: really thinking that they are fighting a patriotic war like the one in 1941 and that the foreigner is their enemy. No. In no case. Here they are the ones who intend to make a show of force by getting into the heart of a country that fights for its freedom. A country well prepared, well equipped, agile in combat movement and convinced of victory. A country whose future depends on victory in this war and will do anything to achieve it. To be cold, to be hungry, to be thirsty. Anything goes when it’s your family that’s at stake. What is at stake for the Rostov civil servant turned artilleryman? Any. Only the desire to return home as soon as possible.
Follow the topics that interest you