this winter “the Russians have a strategy to plunge the country into darkness and cold”

October 28, 2022 at 3:05 p.m

Snow, frost and temperatures that can drop to -20°C inside. without forgetting rasputitsa, a weather phenomenon that turns entire regions into fields of mud. If Ukrainians are used to harsh winters, this year’s especially scary cold could become a new weapon of war. For several weeks, Russia has launched a new strategy: an attack on its energy infrastructure. According to Vladimir Zelensky, 30% of the country’s electrical installations were destroyed or damaged as a result of Russian strikes, and more than a thousand municipalities were left without electricity. In early October, Vladimir Putin announced that the Zaporozhye region, home to the country’s largest nuclear power plant, was now in Moscow’s hands.

For Carole Grimaud, founder of the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies (CREER) and an expert at the Geneva Geostrategic Observatory, Russia’s goal is clear: “Plunge Ukraine into darkness and cold. »This is a deliberate strategy to force them to bend or withdraw from the occupied territories again.”this will obviously affect the populace as well as the army, which also needs energy to heat, light and sustain the battle.

A new front to block supply in the Northwest?

If the population of Ukraine massively supports their country in the war, Russia wants to take advantage of the winter. “Dishearten him because the lack of electricity will weigh heavily and add to their suffering », Further develops the expert who adds: The goal is to make public opinion “what’s the point of continuing?” is to achieve that. For Moscow, this is some time to reduce the likelihood that the Ukrainians will continue this war. »

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Especially after the power plants, Russia could do it “cut supply routes, Carole Grimaud advances. Trucks come from Poland via routes in western Ukraine. It is possible that at this time Belarus will come into play and a new front will be opened in the north-west, which will make it impossible to pass through Poland. » In addition to food aid, Moscow is primarily trying to prevent the passage of weapons to equip the Ukrainian army.

Winter may have consequences for the rest of the battle, but this time both sides will be affected. “Until recently, we thought that bad weather would slow down the fighting, but in fact, it will simply change the way we wage war on the ground. says the researcher. Russia will probably use the opportunity to continue operations. »

We cannot predict anything, this is a new contract that will weigh on both armies

However, conditions may become difficult for the two armies in the cold winter, as they will need equipment and warm clothing. Because there is also the issue of weapons “They don’t work the same way because of the temperature », the expert notes.For the Ukrainians, the weapons sent by the US have been tested in extremely cold conditions in Alaska and Canada, so they should not be a problem. But what about the French Caesar weapons used in Africa and the Middle East? Nothing says that they will be able to use it in a harsh winter…”

Wait for the cold to come

From this point of view, the Russian army is visible “prepared » For Carole Grimaud: Weapons and clothing have certainly been tested under real conditions in the Arctic zone of their country. But as they send more and more men into battle, it is questionable whether they will have enough equipment to see through the winter. » Moreover, if the cold could help the Russian army in the past, especially when it was invaded by the forces of the German Third Reich in 1941, it sometimes led to losses. In the war against Finland in 1939, Moscow lost more than 120,000 people in three months.

“We cannot predict anything, this is a new contract that will weigh on both armies. Carole Grimaud continues. It will also depend on the terrain. For example, the Ukrainians know the Donbas by heart, having already spent eight winters fighting there, which may work to their advantage. But in the south, the conditions of wet lands and plains in winter could slow down the fighting. That is why the Ukrainians hope to quickly win the Kherson counterattack. »

Also read – War in Ukraine: “Russia does not have the capacity to launch a bigger attack”

Meanwhile, Ukraine is trying to anticipate the arrival of cold weather. Energy backup plans have been implemented in several major cities, notably Kyiv, to allow key infrastructure to continue operating. Many municipalities also organize the supply of wood stoves, firewood and coal to allow people to have warming points in their town.

Western aid may also improve “Still with the supply of weapons, but they can also help the Ukrainians to warm up. What is certain is that measures will be taken to resist them., the expert emphasizes. Several countries, such as Canada, Denmark, Germany, the United States or Great Britain, have already delivered or promised to send thousands of warm clothes to soldiers and the population.

Even if the United Nations predicts a new influx of refugees. “ This is the point where Russia intends to play. Moscow will take advantage of the winter to advance and ensure that Western arms aid is lowCarole Grimaud insists. Vladimir Putin’s goal remains unchanged: the surrender of Ukraine in the spring of 2023.”

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