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The War Ukraine: A Bloody Winter Ahead?

Ukraine TOS-1A
TOS-1A. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The war in Ukraine is about to enter its tenth month, and the first snows are near. The winter will change how the two armies operate and significantly affect the intensity of combat.

For some, the winter brings the potential for negotiations. However, there seems to be no appetite among the Ukrainian government and public opinion for peace with Russia right now.

Ukraine War: A Winter of Negotiations? 

Voices within the U.S. national security and foreign policy community have been calling for the resumption of negotiations now that the incoming winter will largely freeze large-scale offensive operations.

The other day, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley suggested that Ukraine should try to meet Russia at the negotiating table.

His remarks, however, were quickly expanded by the White House in an attempt to not cause offense to the Ukrainians. The U.S. has been the single most important supporter of the Ukrainian war effort, with the United Kingdom, European Union, and Poland following.

However, despite the billions of military aid that the U.S. has sent or has committed to sending to Ukraine, the White House has been cautious not to seem that it is pulling the strings. The Ukrainians are a sovereign people, and the U.S. supports their right to defend themselves against Russian aggression.

Right now, especially after the liberation of Kherson City, there seems to be very little appetite for negotiations with Russia in Kyiv. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly stated that Ukraine will be pursuing the war till the end and till it has liberated all of its territories currently under Russian occupation, including the Crimean Peninsula.

Winter is Coming

Winter is starting to take hold of the battlefield in Ukraine. The drop in the temperature and the incoming snow will bring a whole new operational environment.

To begin with, there will be much less sunlight for the two sides to operate. From November to March, there will be approximately nine hours of daylight compared to the average of 15 to 16 hours of daylight during the summer.

Both Ukraine and Russia have limited night-time fighting capabilities, meaning that their offensive operations will be largely restricted during daylight hours—on a side note, this is an ideal opportunity for the West to supply the Ukrainian forces with more night vision equipment to enable them to be more effective in the dark.

“The average high temperature will drop from 13 degrees Celsius through September to November, to zero through December to February. Forces lacking in winter weather clothing and accommodation are highly likely to suffer from non-freezing cold injuries,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.


TOS-1 rocket launcher. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

“Additionally, the ‘golden hour’ window in which to save a critically wounded soldier is reduced by approximately half, making the risk of contact with the enemy much greater. The weather itself is likely to see an increase in rainfall, wind speed and snowfall. Each of these will provide additional challenges to the already low morale of Russian forces, but also present problems for kit maintenance. Basic drills such as weapon cleaning must be adjusted to the conditions and the risk of weapon malfunctions increase,” the British Military Intelligence added.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.