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Arctic winds coupled with extremely cold temperatures could stop Russian military advances in their tracks, experts suggest.
Taking wind chill into account, forecasters believe it may feel as cold as -20C, meaning troops will be forced to sit in ‘40-ton iron freezers’ or abandon their tanks altogether.
Analysts believe this bout of freezing cold weather could make Russia’s invasion harder, especially for troops stuck in a 40-mile column of stalled vehicles north of the Ukrainian capital.
A Ukrainian military source told The Times: “It will affect those in the long-staying convoys; it means that Russian troops staying alongside the roads will be suffering.”
Similarly, Major Kevin Price, who served in the British Army for 20 years, explained: “Minus 20C will degrade the Russian force, there is no question. It will improve cross-country mobility because there will be less mud but the Russians are not ready for Arctic conditions.”
He also pointed out that without suitable clothing, the continuation of conflict would be ‘unbelievably tough’.
The prospect of fuel shortages would also mean that soldiers could not run their engines to keep warm.
“Imagine being sat in a 40-ton iron freezer all night,” Price continued, adding that very low temperatures may affect vehicle performance without the addition of oils and lubricants.
As well as damaging vehicles, Price believes freezing cold temperatures would further damage Russian morale and may even result in weather-related casualties.
He said: “It’s not a decisive factor, but it is a very unwelcome development for Russian commanders.”
Considering that the temperature is below average for this time of year, he believes Russian forces may be unprepared.
Brigadier Ben Barry, senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, noted that bad weather would also affect Ukrainians.
He said: “It will slow things down, but it will slow things down for both sides. The proportion of troops that start suffering cold injuries like frostbite will go up.”
Possibly as a result of the troubling weather conditions, a Nato military official told CNN that Russia is making very little progress.
The official said: “We see very little change. For the first time, we don’t expect them to make any gains in the next few days.”
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