Ukrainian soldiers are facing a new challenge as the summer gives way to shorter days, drenching rain, and snow.
The war has already continued through two winters, so ground troops won’t abandon the battlefield anytime soon. However, relentless downpours can dissolve roads, and icy weather complicates basic operations from loading artillery shells to pulling a trigger.
One worry is that Ukraine’s grueling assault on Russian defenses could eventually achieve a breach that its heavy armored equipment can’t quickly exploit because terrain is too muddy or snowy. For now, fighting is a brutal infantry slog over small distances, with both sides’ movements limited by constant aerial surveillance and attacks. Kyiv’s forces are battering away at heavily defended Russian lines, seeking to create fissures that they can widen and push tanks and other armored equipment through. Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s HUR military intelligence service, said that “The fighting will continue one way or another.” U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was more cautious about Ukraine’s ability to advance this year. Its forces have “probably about 30 to 45 days.”