The open-source military intelligence analysts at OSINT Technical posted a new video to social media on Tuesday that shows the conditions on the ground in Eastern Ukraine. One word best describes what Kyiv’s forces are now dealing with: “mud.” A Ukrainian light armored vehicle appeared to struggle as it towed an artillery piece in the nearly 30-second-long clip.
“Definitely still mud season in eastern Ukraine, seen here as a Ukrainian MT-LB tows a US-supplied M777,” the caption of the tweet by @Osinttechnical noted.
The other word that describes the situation would be “rasputitsa,” as it is known locally.
It is the season when travel on unpaved roads or across country can be difficult due to the muddy conditions from rain and melting snow. It was just a week that the Donbas region was hit with some of the heaviest snow in decades, followed by spring-like temperatures that climbed into the upper 50s.
The snowfall by quick warm-up was a bad mix for anything but mud.
Rasputitsa has plagued countless invaders to the land that is now Eastern Ukraine, but it is also impacting Ukraine’s ability to drive out the Russian invader. The 13.1-ton MT-LB, a multi-purpose towing vehicle that was developed for the Soviet Army in the late 1960s, struggled in the mud while towing a British-made M777 howitzer.
In fact, the MT-LB was even designed for dealing with muddy conditions, yet it was far from easy-going for the crew. One can only imagine how a nearly 70-ton Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) would fare on the same ground.
Western military analysts now estimate it may not be until mid-May that the ground is dry enough for Kyiv to launch any planned counteroffensive – at least in the Donbas. Russia’s recent offensive to secure the region has bogged down, likely in part to the weather and muddy conditions, and the Kremlin’s forces have made limited – at best – progress, while it has taken heavy losses.
Countless Russian tanks have been destroyed in the recent fighting, and recent videos have shown that Ukraine has targeted many abandoned MBTs. The terrain has played a role. Russian crews have been known to flee from their vehicles that become mired on the muddy open ground.
Southern Offensive Coming Soon?
The mud in the Donbas could also impact Russian supply lines to the south, which could dry out soon. That may present an opportunity for Ukrainian forces to begin a counteroffensive toward the Russian-occupied Melitopol. The city, which is the second largest urban center in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, fell to the Russian invaders just over 13 months ago.
Definitely still mud season in eastern Ukraine, seen here as a Ukrainian MT-LB tows a US-supplied M777. pic.twitter.com/iWwQ8xfGoW
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) April 4, 2023
It was earlier this week that a railway depot was targeted by Ukrainian HIMARS rockets, only further suggesting that the urban center could soon be besieged by Kyiv’s forces. Perhaps it will be in the south where those nearly-arrived heavy German-made Leopard 2 MBTs can roll into action, while the ground in the Donbas dries out.
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.