UKRAINE PLANS TO USE WINTER TO CUT OFF RUSSIA’S MILITARY SUPPLY CHAINS AND ‘FREEZE THEM OUT’ OF THE COUNTRY, OFFICIAL SAYS
Nov 13, 2023
Ukraine’s aim for the winter months is to cut off Russian military supply chains and “freeze them out” of the country, Volodymyr Fito, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Ground Forces, said. Ukraine’s “main task will be to cut off Russian occupation forces’ supply chains and logistics, both on the front and behind the frontlines,” Fito said, according to the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda. “If we manage to do it, I think the weather — rain and frost — will help us freeze them out” of Ukraine, he added.
Winter conditions are expected to slow down the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces, as is typical in war. Last winter, months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the two countries fought a grinding attritional battle, with no major breakthroughs or territory changes. Rain, frost, snow, and cold can make actions like moving tanks and laying mines more difficult.
But key strategic actions can still take place. Russia used last winter to lay its vast network of defenses and land-mine fields, turning Ukraine into the world’s most heavily mined country and frustrating Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which started in June.
Ukraine has vowed to keep up its counteroffensive efforts through winter. A land-warfare expert said Ukraine could use the time to inflict serious damage on Russian forces, if it can stretch those forces thin. “The winter once again poses an opportunity to maximize Russian losses,” said Jack Watling, a senior research fellow for land warfare at the UK think tank Royal United Services Institute.
Fito speculated the fighting would slow down. “The weather will play its part in military operations,” he said. “If it starts raining, fewer aircraft and attack drones will be deployed.” He added that while it would be “more difficult for military vehicles and equipment to move,” artillery would continue to be used as much as it is now.
Ukraine and its allies have warned that Russia looks set to continue the tactic it adopted last winter — notably targeting Ukraine’s power and water infrastructure with missiles. That tactic killed many people and led to Ukraine setting up heating points for its citizens. The UK’s defense ministry said last month that Russia appeared to be stockpiling cruise missiles to use against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the winter.
Sinéad Baker is a Senior News Reporter based in Insider’s London bureau, focusing on breaking news and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sinéad most often covers military strategy, battlefield developments, and the geopolitical decisions that surround the war. She has interviewed multiple prime ministers, has appeared on BBC News and The Guardian’s politics podcast, and has been cited by Congressional hearings. Sinéad has also extensively covered US politics and previously led Insider’s breaking news coverage from London. Sinéad previously completed a master’s degree in investigative journalism at City, University of London, and has written for The Guardian, The Observer, and TheJournal.ie. Sinéad is the former editor of the multi-award-winning The University Times in Dublin.