Antony Beevor has a fine historical review of Russia’s winter wars in Foreign Affairs magazine. He revisits the wars waged by and against Russia since the beginning of the 18th century with Sweden. Many of them were great victories for Russia: this war against Ukraine may be different.
For instance, in WWII, Beevor writes:
German soldiers referred bitterly to winter conditions as “weather for Russians.” They envied the Red Army’s winter uniforms, with white camouflage suits and padded cotton jackets, which were far more effective than German greatcoats.
Now in the Ukrainian war zone:
While Russian troops curse their shortages and lack of hot food, Ukrainian troops are now benefiting from supplies of insulated camouflage suits, tents with stoves, and sleeping bags provided by Canada and the Nordic nations. Putin seems to be in denial about the state of his army and the way that General Winter will favor his opponents.
It’s easy to assume that Russia comes out ahead in wintry weather wars. Read Beevor’s piece and you’ll get the sense that this may be just the opposite: Russia’s New Winter War: Could Putin Go the Way of Napoleon and Hitler?
P.S. As an aside, it’s great to see a writer like Beevor depend on more than what happened in WWII to help us understand what is happening in our world now. So many writers have a limited historical range. Beevor is not one of those.
I highly recommend Beevor’s books. My favorite is Stalingrad, but all of them are worthwhile.