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Ukraine plans to use winter to cut off Russia’s military supply chains and ‘freeze them out’ of the country, official says

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Ukrainian tank training

This article by Sinéad Baker was originally published by Business Insider.

Ukraine’s aim for the winter months is to cut off Russian military supply chains and “freeze them out” of the country, Volodymyr Fito, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Ground Forces, said.

Ukraine’s “main task will be to cut off Russian occupation forces’ supply chains and logistics, both on the front and behind the frontlines,” Fito said, according to the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda.

“If we manage to do it, I think the weather – rain and frost – will help us freeze them out” of Ukraine, he added.

Winter conditions are expected to slow down the fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces, as is typical in war.

Last winter, months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the two countries fought a grinding attritional battle, with no major breakthroughs or territory changes.

Rain, frost, snow, and cold can make actions like moving tanks and laying mines more difficult.

But key strategic actions can still take place. Russia used last winter to lay its vast network of defenses and land-mine fields, turning Ukraine into the world’s most heavily mined country and frustrating Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which started in June.

Related: Another one bites the dust: Ukrainian long-range strikes take out another Russian warship

Ukraine has vowed to keep up its counteroffensive efforts through winter. A land-warfare expert said Ukraine could use the time to inflict serious damage on Russian forces, if it can stretch those forces thin.

“The winter once again poses an opportunity to maximize Russian losses,” said Jack Watling, a senior research fellow for land warfare at the U.K. think tank Royal United Services Institute.

Fito speculated the fighting would slow down. “The weather will play its part in military operations,” he said. “If it starts raining, fewer aircraft and attack drones will be deployed.”

He added that while it would be “more difficult for military vehicles and equipment to move,” artillery would continue to be used as much as it is now.

Ukraine and its allies have warned that Russia looks set to continue the tactic it adopted last winter – notably targeting Ukraine’s power and water infrastructure with missiles.

That tactic killed many people and led to Ukraine setting up heating points for its citizens.

The U.K.’s defense ministry said last month that Russia appeared to be stockpiling cruise missiles to use against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the winter.

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