A senior U.S. official revealed this week that Russian forces in Ukraine are losing men — to frostbite. Besides suffering from shortages of fuel, ammunition and food, the Kremlin did not properly outfit many of its troops who were sent into Ukraine.
As the old saying goes, you really can’t make this stuff up. Russian soldiers suffering frostbite from lack of proper winter gear — who saw that one coming? The U.S. official said some invaders are now unable to fight because of succumbing to the bitter cold, a startling revelation concerning Moscow’s fighting forces.
If you could dig up Napoleon or Hitler and ask them what they would do differently in their ill-fated invasions of Russia, both would cite better winter clothing and weather awareness. How is it possible that the Russian military itself fails to heed history’s obvious lessons?
A blast of Arctic air late last week brought temperatures in eastern Ukraine down as much as 22 degrees F below normal, and according to meteorologists the strong wind made it feel like minus-20 in some areas. As one security expert noted, those huge Russian tanks are little more than “refrigerators at night” if the engines are not running.
The Pentagon this week estimated that Russian forces have lost ten percent of their manpower since the invasion began, and a Russian newspaper published a revealing estimate of nearly 10,000 deaths Monday before the online information was deleted later.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly purged several military leaders and placed some intelligence officials on house arrest as the invasion has largely stalled. Its ground offensive is stuck about ten miles from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, and no major cities have been overrun despite near constant bombardment from Russian forces.
Yes, Ukrainian defenders under the valiant leadership of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and their government have put up a fierce struggle against overwhelming odds. And yes, invading and subduing a determined population is at best a risky proposition, as many a country has learned in past decades — Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind.
But for Russian forces not to have proper winter gear and suffer logistical and sustainment issues due to poor planning is inexcusable. If there is one country in the history of civilization that should know chapter and verse about the need to prepare for harsh Eastern European weather, it is Russia.