Russia is likely using Ukraine's freezing winter to ramp up its front-line assaults — but its losses are soaring, British intelligence says

  • Russia is ramping up its offensive operations on the front lines in Ukraine, per the UK MoD.

  • It's likely taking advantage of the "freezing ground conditions" to move armored vehicles.

  • Data from the Ukrainian General Staff suggests these attacks result in huge losses.

Russia is ramping up its front-line offensives against Ukraine, likely taking advantage of the "freezing ground conditions" to move armored vehicles around the country, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in an update on the conflict on Sunday.

In the military intelligence update, the MoD said that data from the Ukrainian General Staff pointed "toward a steady increase in the intensity of Russian offensive activity across the front over the last two weeks."

But Russia's mounting attacks are leading to huge losses to its military vehicles and personnel, the MoD said, citing data from the Ukrainian General Staff.

From January 14 to January 18, it said the data suggested that Russian military vehicle losses had climbed 88%, while tank losses had soared 95%. The number of Russian casualties over the period had also increased by 15%, it added.

For example, Russian forces are repeatedly carrying out large-scale infantry "meat assaults" on the city of Avdiivka, a Ukrainian commander said, CNN reported.

"Assault after assault, non-stop. If we kill 40 to 70 of them with drones in a day, the next day they renew their forces and continue to attack," "Teren," an artillery reconnaissance commander of Ukraine's 110th Mechanized Brigade, told CNN.

Russia has become increasingly reliant on high-risk frontal assaults, or "human-wave attacks," which attempt to overwhelm Ukrainian positions.

'When roads stop existing'

A military vehicle in Bakhmut, February 2023.
A military vehicle in Bakhmut, February 2023.Marek M. Berezowski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russian forces may be attempting to make the most of the hard, frozen grounds left by Ukraine's harsh winter before the spring thaw and mud season, which caught Russia out at the outbreak of the war in February 2022, set in again.

The rapid melting of snow and ice in parts of eastern Europe in spring gives way to thick mud that makes travel extremely difficult. Russians call the period "Rasputitsa," translated as "when roads stop existing," The Guardian reported.

The mud season causes problems for Russia and Ukraine, with artillery and military vehicles trapped in the sodden, heavy clay soil.

Butm experts previously told Business Insider that Ukraine's US-provided Abrams tanks could be key during the mud season fighting.

"The Abrams was made for this environment," Robert Greenway, a former adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute think tank, said.

"The mud could become impassable for almost any vehicle," Greenway said, "but the reality is that the Abrams is best equipped to deal with that environment, far better than any other tracked vehicle in existence."

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