Video of Snow-Covered Trench Trends on Social Media: A video shared on social media on Friday made clear that March didn’t go out like a lamb this year in the Donbas region of Ukraine. A late winter/early spring snowstorm left soldiers on both sides digging out in the trenches where they had only dug in last August.
The nearly 30-second long clip, shared by the open-source military intelligence group OSINT Technical (@Osinttechnical), showed Ukrainian soldiers from the 92 Mechanized Brigade making their way through a snow-filled trench in the Bakhmut area, Donetsk Oblast.
The blizzard that struck the region resulted in the heaviest snowfall in late March in decades. It has made the fighting around Bakhmut nearly impossible, the UK’s Telegraph newspaper reported on Saturday.
General Winter it seems hasn’t retired from the battle just yet this year. The recent late-season snowfall has felled trees, as more than half a meter (1.6 feet) has blanketed the Donbas region. Known locally as “Philomena,” the late-season snow squall has reportedly paralyzed military operations on both sides – even cutting off logistical supply chains.
War in Wintertime
The scene of the recent fighting has evoked numerous comparisons to the trench lines of the Western Front of the First World War, but the sight of deep snow that was waist-high could be compared to the fighting on the Isonzo Front during the same conflict. Throughout the winter months from 1915 to 1918, the Austrian and Italian Armies battled in the high alps – where soldiers were forced to fight off frostbite as much as the enemy!
Likewise, the images in Ukraine following the recent snowstorm served as a reminder of the conditions that German troops faced during the Second World War in Ukraine when they fought the Soviet Union’s Red Army.
General Winter contributed significantly to the Nazi’s defeat.
This recent weather was sure to slow down as Russian advances, and Vladimir Putin’s Army is stuck in the mud just as Adolf Hitler’s forces were in 1941 and 1942!
However, the new snowfall could also serve to delay any expected Ukrainian counteroffensives. By this weekend, the snow was already melting quickly as temperatures climbed into the low to mid-50s, and could be even warmer in the coming days.
Time of the Mud
Soldiers may have been slugging through the waist-high snow on Friday, but for weeks they’ve been dealing with waist-deep mud, and the situation will likely only continue to get worse. It may take weeks or even more than a month for the ground to dry up, and it seems that the “Rasputitsa” – the season of mud – has arrived. This explains why the World War I-style trench battle has continued and little ground in some parts has changed hands in weeks.
Ukrainian soldiers from the 92nd Mechanized Brigade make their way through a snow-filled trench in the Bakhmut area, Donetsk Oblast. pic.twitter.com/hj1CfMOwbH
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) March 31, 2023
The timing of the snowstorm could play well for Russia, as the mud-soaked ground won’t be ideal for the Western main battle tanks – notably the 60-ton German Leopard 2s that are now arriving in Ukraine. It was expected that Kyiv may have wanted to launch its counteroffensive in advance of the late spring rains, but the ground may now not be dry until summer.
The Rasputitsa essentially denied Russia the firm ground for its recent offensive, but it likely could also play a similar role in slowing down an attack by Ukraine. For both sides, it could mean dealing with wet and muddy conditions for weeks to come.
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.