An entire column of Russian T80U tanks was abandoned this week after becoming stuck in thick mud in Ukraine.
Video emerged on Tuesday of the line of Russian T80U tanks stuck with mud up to the top of their tracks in some cases. The footage showed no Russian crews attempting to recover the tanks from the mud, suggesting they were outright abandoned.
Rob Lee, a Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) fellow who has provided frequent commentary out of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, said the tanks were abandoned near the northeastern Ukrainian city of Sumy.
Another Twitter user said the tanks belonged to the Russian Army’s 4th Guards ‘Kantemirovskaya’ Tank Division.
This is not the first time Russian forces have had to abandon their vehicles in the thick Ukrainian mud.
Last week, two more Russian T-80 tanks were filmed after they became stuck in the mud near the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.
Over the weekend, a Russian supply truck reportedly carrying food was left in the mud near the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv.
Ukrainian forces have also reportedly flooded areas around the capital city of Kyiv to add to the muddy conditions and help slow or close off avenues of Russian advances.
Muddy conditions have long been considered a factor in the viability of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Over the winter, as tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered along Ukraine’s borders, analysts considered the temperatures as a major factor in predicting when Russia would invade. Russian armored forces required cold enough conditions to freeze the Ukrainian ground enough to hold up to the weight of their vehicles. Warmer weather poses the risk that more and more heavy Russian armored vehicles could be stuck as the ground thaws and turns to mud.
By mid-January, reports indicated Ukraine was still experiencing relatively mild winter conditions, leading analysts to predict Russia wouldn’t be able to invade until sometime in February, giving it a narrower window to invade before the spring thaw. The footage of the Russian tanks stuck in the mud appears to indicate that the spring thaw may have already started and could pose a further hindrance to Russia’s forward momentum, which has already been slowed by stiff Ukrainian resistance in some areas.
Muddy conditions in eastern Europe have impeded other major military operations in the region throughout history. As Slate reported, Napolean Bonaparte delayed his 1812 invasion of Russian until the summer, in order to avoid the spring mud, but his army’s retreat from Russia later that year was hindered by the mud that can often set in again in the fall season.
Nazi Germany also delayed its 1941 invasion of Russia, Operation Barbarossa, due in part to wet conditions in May of that year. Like Napolean’s French army before them, the German army was also hindered by the muddy conditions as they returned in the fall of that year.
Mud has had so significant an impact on the fate of military operations in eastern Europe, that Russian speakers have popularized the term “Raputitsa,” meaning “General Mud.”