“Allies dig in to give Ukraine winter edge over ill-equipped Russians”

“Few militaries can operate at anything approaching peak performance in the grip of winter.

Everything becomes harder: cleaning weapons, fixing vehicles and cooking food take on new levels of difficulty.

Sleep is especially important. Comfort is often compromised by having rifles inside the sleeping bag: readily to hand if required and with no chance of fingers sticking to bare frozen metal.

Disciplined, trained and well-equipped armies survive to fight in such conditions.

Others, including the Russian army that has been camped out in Ukraine for eight months now, will fight to survive. 

High morale is needed to withstand the temperature drop.

Ukrainian servicemen snow
Ukrainian servicemen walk along a snow-covered trench guarding their position at the frontline in eastern Ukraine CREDIT: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

The provision of healthy, hot and nutritious meals, varied on a three- or four-day rotation to be satisfactorily different, assumes an even greater importance than on summer days.

Clothing must be up to the job. Each soldier should be issued with different types of well-fitting garments, better to trap layers of warm air.

Equipment too suffers as the ground hardens and air freezes.

Oils and other essential lubricants thicken or freeze if not treated correctly, some requiring additives. Batteries die sooner. Rubber seals can crack and split.

The temptation to run engines to provide warmth is great, but this makes noise and runs down precious fuel supplies. Sound travels further over frozen ground; the position can soon become obvious to the enemy.

Any increased heat signature will be warmly gobbled up by thermal cameras watching from afar and attached to weapon systems.”

Comment: I did the NWTC when I was a lieutenant. My unit had approved contingency NATO reinforcing plans in Norway. So, they trained me as an arctic warfare trainer for the troops. Lemme tell ya. This is nothing to screw around with. If you don’t have the right gear and know what you are doing, you are going to suffer a lot of cold casualties and your combat effectiveness will go down to zero. You need special clothing like white rubber thermal boots that are like a hot water bottle on each foot, arctic parkas, trigger finger mittens, pile caps, the works. pl

Allies dig in to give Ukraine winter edge over ill-equipped Russians (telegraph.co.uk)

This entry was posted in Russia, The Military Art, Ukraine Crisis. Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to “Allies dig in to give Ukraine winter edge over ill-equipped Russians”

  1. A. Pols says:

    So, you’re saying Russians don’t have winter gear and are going to end up as modern day “Winter Fritzes” ? This seems on the face of it rather implausible.

    • TTG says:

      A. Pols,

      Russian boots were crap back in February and March. Gone are the days of simple thick felt Russian boots stuffed with dried grass. The Russians recently learned they are missing a million sets of winter gear that was supposedly in storage. Who knows to whom the Russian procurement crooks sold those. Come winter, the Russians are screwed.

      • d74 says:


        Cold is an excellent anesthetic for external injuries.
        In addition, cold stops hemorrhaging. At worst, the blood freezes. So health support is easier.

        Like the Deutchers in front of Moscow during the winter of 1941, the Russians will kill a maximum of Ukrainians. They will re-equip themselves with comfortable clothes by stripping the dead, and even those who are not quite dead.

        Make no mistake, the lack of cold weather gear is a well known Russian tactic to extract the best out of men.

        • Pat Lang says:

          You don’t understand that prolonged unprotected cold gives you frostbite, then gangrene sets in in the dead fleas and then you die or have things cut off. We are NOT talking about mere discomfort here. Don’t the Russians train in the Winter?

          • d74 says:

            I know, but russkies had a second secret arm: Vodka or anti-freeze liquid from motor vehicles, even alcohol from thermometers, or perfume or cologne (these 3 cases observed by French people on the Eastern Front and a Russian witness).

            In temperatures of -30 -40°C, this is the only way for people to move forward.

            My observation that the cold preserves the wounded is based on a specific testimony: in Debalstevo, a wounded Russian combatant from a Russian formation was relieved by the health service 3 days after injury. He had lost both legs plus a frozen hand. The temperature went down to -20 °C during the nights. Probably this is exceptional. (On-site investigation in 2015 by Simon Ostrowski, a very astute journalist…)

          • Pat Lang says:

            Oh, bullshit. Prolonged unprotected cold conditions will KILL YOU dummy!

          • Bill Roche says:

            Wife and I used to ski downhill. Sometimes in -15 degrees (Laurentians). Nice to go in every hour for some cocoa and snapps. Never expose your skin longer then 45-60 minutes. I remember passages from “Frozen Choisen” talking about troops frozen in place in the morning. Don’t fluk w/t cold.

        • Barbara Ann says:


          The lack of cold weather gear is a Russian tactic to get the best out of their men? Awesome. The logical extension of this tactic would be for Russian soldiers to confront the enemy naked. Heck if they weren’t provided with weapons either they’d have to tear the enemy apart with tooth and claw. Just imagine what inner strengths these super soldiers would discover then.

          • borko says:


            In the past, Russians were often accused of treating their soldiers as expendable resources. It seems they have not moved on from that model much, if at all.

      • Marc says:

        I guess time will tell. In the face of previous experience (Napoleon, Hitler etc.) this looks like a risky bet.

  2. Leith says:

    The earlier models of the thermal boots were gigantic. They were black, had no vapor barrier. We used them in Hokkaido during winter training back 60 plus years ago. We called them Mickey Mouse boots because they made your feet bulbous like Disney cartoon feet.

    • TTG says:


      Sure those Mickey Mouse boots wouldn’t win any fashion contests, but they were very warm and their vapor barrier construction prevented them from freezing from sweat accumulation unlike leather boots no matter how well insulated they were. We could both ski and snowshoe in them. The white ones were even thicker and had a valve to adjust air pressure during airborne operations.

  3. cobo says:

    I remember wearing the Mickey Mouse boots in Germany, late 70s. If I wore my black leather Army boots inside my feet were freezing. Wearing Adidas tennis shoes inside worked much better, probably an article 15 if I got caught.

    • cobo says:

      I’m not sure we have the same Mickey Mouse. We called these the overboots we were issued. There were other thick black rubber boots that weren’t overboots. They were very good, I was told.

      • TTG says:


        I think you’re talking about the black rubber golashes used as overboots, much like the ones we wore as kids. You only wore socks with the Mouse boots and changed those socks often because your feet did sweat in them.

  4. Rick says:

    I recall a story about Stalin and his generals. They were complaining about a lack of winter clothing and equipment for their soldiers. Stalin recounted how an earlier generation of Russian soldiers had survived harsh winter weather with only their overcoats. He then directed his generals to spend a night outside his headquarters in the same fashion. Most survived, I think.

  5. Rick says:

    Regarding the Mickey Mouse boots, I think they were supposed to be worn in static positions. Anyway, I don’t recall doing a lot of walking in them, at least for long distances.

  6. TTG says:

    Canada is sending half a million sets of winter gear. I’m sure they’re good. Back in the 80s, it was 10th Group that developed the current winter gear consisting of polypropylene fleece and goretex. During the development, the Falkland War started. We sent the first issue to the Brits since our CO served an exchange tour with the Parachute Regiment. Afterwards, the Brits told our CO that those uniforms saved lives in the cold-wet Falklands.

    I still have my pair of first generation of thinsulate-goretex boots. They looked like jungle boots and were brown because, at that time, we thought the Army was going to brown boots. The Fort Devens commander went nut over our wearing of brown boots. He hated SF anyways.

    • Bill Roche says:

      Don’t know why but many Ukrainians immigrated to Canada. Lots of them live west of Toronto. Sorry to always be so political but there are votes for Trudeau behind this donation by Canada. Still, its the right thing to do.

  7. Rick says:

    Regarding SF’s role the development of winter gear, in the early 1980s, 1/10 in Bad Toelz, in an attempt to meet solders’ demand for equipment better than the 1950s-era gear that was standard issue at the time, purchased contemporary sleeping bags from some retailer such as REI. Although these sleeping bags were more than adequate for the winter conditions, they were HUGE. They weren’t heavy, but they completely filled a large Alice rucksack. There was no way to take them in the field. We called them Big Red because their interiors were red.

    • TTG says:


      A couple of our mountain teams bought their own mountaineering ski bindings and boots. Not cheap. We never went that far, but most of us did buy commercial bags.

    • Mark Logan says:


      There are people, such as myself, who are allergic to goose down. Can’t even share a tent with someone using a goose down bag. It’s a mild allergy, a feeling of shortness of breath. Discovered after of couple of years of trekking around with people I absolutely knew I was in better shape than who would out-do me when we donned parkas, which coincided with getting up there in altitude most of the time. I was opening tent-flaps to let air into a tent at -20F because the tent was “stuffy” and people justifiably though me nuts for it. I suspected I might be one of those people who just can’t handle altitude.

      It’s no surprise to me that the gub-mint doesn’t procure goose down bags for regular grunts, anyway. However, while synthetics still can’t be stuffed into the tiny sack goose down can, they are significantly less bulky than the stuff available in the 80s was, no question. A LOT of progress has been made.

  8. Al says:

    I have a “hi loft” down bag that kept me warm in an unheated UP Michigan cabin with -20 temps outside. It packs down to a “rugby ball” size. You just cant get down bags wet as they lose insulating capacity.

    • TTG says:


      I always dreamed of one of those high loft goose down bags ever since I started hiking and camping in the 6th grade. They were always way out of my price range. I settled for a polyfill bag. As you mentioned they work even if you get them wet. Just like Rick did, I got a good hollofill bag for use in 10th Group. Also like Rick, the color was anything but tactical. My was international orange.

      The most versatile piece of military equipment I own is my poncho liner. It’s now softer than a baby’s blanket and served me well in surprisingly cool weather. One night on the Big Island of Hawaii, I endured a raging blizzard with my poncho liner in a sleeping bag cover. In Ranger School, I woke up twice covered in snow under that poncho liner.

      • Al says:

        TGG, I’ve done many backpacking trips into Oregon’s Cascades. In June we’ve camped on crusted snow…with days in 70s, nites down to 20.

        I found my hi loft bag in NEW condition at a Goodwill Stores near my home! Two mummy bags were hanging side by side…one a Notth Face poly bag for $40 and in good condition. The others bag was of a brand I never heard of. But looking at the tag saw it was “high loft goose down and made by company in Austria…for $20!!!!!
        I RAN back home and googled the company….their cheapest bags were $450. I RAN back and bought it. Sometimes the bag is too hot for sleeping in moderate temps.

  9. jerseycityjoan says:

    This wild headline based on what is described as a soldier’s video shot in Russia
    was at the Daily Mail yesterday:

    “Putin’s troops moan that they have been issued with plastic paintball masks, children’s gloves and rubber boots to fight”

    It all seems unreal. He only has a raincoat. No winter gear.

    Article also says:

    “And there is such a high demand for kit that prices have surged in Russia, according to the Kommersant newspaper.

    Body armour in Russia has soared to around £1,115 with a rucksack costing up to £560 and thermal underwear skyrocketing to more than £300.”

    Now that sounds very believable.

    Are we going to see mass surrenders? What is going to keep Putin’s soldiers going, much less the untrained non-soldiers who have gotten dragged into this mess?


  10. EZSmirkzz says:

    Well Col., seems the 101st Airborne is digging in too.

    First time in 80 years.

    “WNU Editor: These US forces are only 3 miles from the Ukraine border. A US intervention into Ukraine will mean war with Russia. Needless to say. this story is being covered extensively in Russia …. ”

    Reckon so.

  11. Pat Lang says:

    Those white mouse boots were heaven. I skied a hundred miles in them with two pairs of sox inside at 50 below zero F. This was pulling an akhio sled boat loaded with a couple hundred pounds of gear, tents, stove, crew served, gasoline in our various boats. You could pour water in the top of those boots at that temp and in a minute the water would be body temp. The instructors had a special career MOS, were all senior NCOs. They were trained by ex-Finnish Ski Hunt Commandos; Same guys teach at several stateside schools like Dahlonega but Ft. Greely is or was there home station.

  12. Lars says:

    Growing up in Sweden, I know all about staying warm. Of course, I solved the problem by moving to Florida. But if the reports are right about the lack of gear in the Russian army, they will be in a world of hurt, if not properly geared up. I still have some painful memories of being caught thus and I did not have to fight anyone, unless you consider ice hockey a form of ( primitive) combat.

    • TTG says:


      Glad to see another hockey player. The coldest game I ever played was one of our inter-fraternity games at a windy outdoor rink at either 3 or 4 in the morning. We had two rinks and they were going almost constantly. Tightly laced hockey skates are no defense against the cold.

  13. Sam says:

    This is an eye-opening interview: youtube.com/watch?v=bX3EZC…

    In the words of the late Soviet defector and KGB operative Yuri Bezmenov who specialized in Marxist-Leninist propaganda and psychological warfare (lightly edited for clarity): “The main emphasis of the KGB isn’t in the area of intelligence at all. According to my opinion and the opinion of many defectors of my caliber, only ~15% of the KGB’s time, money, and manpower is spent on espionage.” “The other ~85% is spent on a slow process called ideological subversion or psychological warfare.” “This basically means to change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite an abundance of information, they’re unable to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country”


    Dunno if it was the KGB or CCP but our ruling elites including in academia chose to forget the hardwork, dedication and perseverance required to move forward on the basis of common sense principles. Instead chose sophistry to mask making a quick buck. And nothing was quicker than financial speculation. I know it is all vastly more complicated and nuanced. Financialization of our economy, culture wars and deep partisanship are products of a society that’s forgotten the basics that brought them great prosperity and strength.

    • cobo says:


      I’ve learned a lot from Yuri Bezmenov’s lectures on YouTube. One term that he introduced to me was the “Global Communist.” He stated that after the destruction of a society it would be cleaned up of the true believers and useful idiots that had been used to bring the society down. They were certainly not the people who could build a society, and the Global Communist wasn’t at all idealistic. One of the marked groups were the communist ideologues, they were dreamers and trouble-makers and were cleansed early. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had similar observations in “The Gulag Archipelago,” telling of those sent to the gulag still proclaiming their loyalty to the Party and the Cause. What we’re seeing with Putin and now with Xi is the face of the Global Communist, but I recon there is a deeper reality and it is evidenced by the collaboration of the CCP with the WEF.

    • jim ticehurst.. says:

      I Think thats why it appears a Prime Target is Counter Intelligence..And So Much Infiltration of CIA and FBI …Dead Assets.. And Now Who..CFR..?? Other ICC Agencys,,?? Hockus Pokus..Politicians..??
      Besides all Those Little Marx Babys.. Drugged Out….. Doped Out. Diseased College Professors and Teachers..Finding More Little Karl Markers,…To Brain Wash..Dope Up..Dummy Down…Hating Capitalists..Free Markets..Idiots..
      …………Karl.. He Was Sure a Creep..Lived Like One..Died Like One..

      There is a Limit..To Gods Patience..

      • jim ticehurst.. says:

        And …Speaking of Hokus Pokus Politicians..How About Joe and Jills Good Friend…Represenative Tom Lantos..D.California…And An Immigrant from Communist Hungary.
        He Was very close to Joe Biden.(Like Family).He Planned a Honeymoon trip for them to Comminist Hungary in 1977..Then He Went With Them..Joe had many Meetings With Communist Official’s..while there..
        Tom Lantos was a Good Friend of George Soros Also….Lantos family members wrote speeches for the Clintons..
        Democrats,,,There was Testimony on Jan 6th,,(Ironic) 2008
        By FBI Whistle Blower Sibel Edmonds..That Tanos.. who was
        Jewish..like Soros..Had Given High Level U.S. Intel and Weapons Technology to Isreal and Turkey..
        Rep Tantos D..California..has since passed away..

        I ound that Information on a Google Search…Joe annd Jill Biden honeymooned in Hungary to Inhale Communism|BLITZ

  14. Vince Turner says:

    Another $50 B for cold weather gear? Let’s not forget the mermites for hot coffee and broth for stand to! I need to buy stock in Raytheon and General Dynamics

  15. Sam says:

    Natural gas in Europe fell to €100/MWh for the 1st time since June as mild weather, well-filled gas storage & arrivals of liquefied natural gas cargoes ease concerns of a supply shortage this winter.


    The linked chart shows the huge fall in gas prices in Europe. If these prices are sustained through the winter it would appear that Putin has shot Russia in the foot as their best customer shifts suppliers.

    • Fred says:


      What is the correlation between reserves being full and sanctions being imposed (preventing inbound Russian gas) on the price of natural gas in Europe? Is that fall from 100euro/MWh similar to gas dropping from $4 to $3.40 a gallon, but still being 90% higher than prior to J6?

      • blue peacock says:


        The Europeans will want to diversify their energy sources and not be reliant on an “unstable” source. Similarly, in the US, we are reliant on a single source for many manufactured goods including pharmaceuticals. With the current decision makers on CCP payroll wonder how that will turn out when Xi decides to flex his military muscle.

        In any case over the next few years the Europeans will need less Russian gas and oil. And in the US it all depends on government policy in terms of how much of our energy resources we can extract and how much nuclear energy power plants we are willing to construct. Currently we are constructing 2 reactors the same as Bangla Desh!

        • Fred says:


          “will want”? There are elements within the EU quite content to crush their middle class, what’s left of it. Single source for pharmaceuticals? The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico not an option? “Upgrading” tv’s and a variety of other goods can not be done without for two or three years? I think they can.

          “in the US it all depends on government policy ”

          They rely, or more accurately are restricted by that, in the EU too, which is why their gasoline was always 50% or more expensive (due to those policies). The same with reliance on natural gas, as well as the restrictions on long term contracts for same.

      • Sam says:


        Correlation ain’t necessarily causation. Prices for financial instruments can move for many reasons including speculation. Just because European gas prices are down 70% from the peak now doesn’t mean it won’t go up in the future or fall even further. Trying to figure out cause of price moves in speculative markets is a mugs game.

        Next hours Nat Gas prices in Europe just turned NEGATIVE. For November they are down 15% and 70% from the peak.


        As for US gasoline prices…why should the Russian oil & gas shutdown affect US prices when we don’t import much Russian petroleum product?

        • Fred says:


          “down from peak”. What it is the futures market for Febraury? What is the available storage capacity given current output and what happens to NG field production if usage goes down given the repeated statements of storage being 95% full in the EU? What does that do to market price? What are the legal restrictions in the EU on long term ng contracts and how does that affect price?

          US Prices: What is a ‘global market’ and how does that affect where oil is going to get shipped to?

          “Drill baby drill” means what? Stoping that via Biden’s executive orders and regulatory actions does what to supply and price?

  16. William M Hatch says:

    In the mid-70’s the Marine Corps got involved in northern Norway. A British team with years of experience in the AO came to the US to give us an orientation brief. One of the Marines asked the Brigadier jn charge how the Marines would fare in Northern Norway with their existing cold weather gear. He responded, “You will freeze to death.”
    A few years later I was reviewing a R&D budget and noticed lines of cold weather gear development. Fortunately before we could waste the funds, someone had a moment of sanity & asked SF what they procured for cold weather gear. The SF recommendation was to buy off of the shelf mountaineering gear. It was already field tested in the most extreme conditions.

  17. Leith says:

    May not see any deep-below-zero temperatures in Kherson or in the Donbas. These are part of the sunny south. They grow watermelon in Kherson and parts of Zaporhizhzhia. The Donbas is colder by a few degrees:


    • TTG says:


      IMO it’s far more difficult operating in a wet-cold environment than a dry cold environment.

      • Leith says:

        After tramping thru the woods in Western WA in the rain looking for Elk sign I have to agree with you.

      • TTG says:


        My Ranger buddy, a corporal from the 2/75th, told me on one miserable freezing rain night in Dahlonega that we can stand most anything until your bung hole gets wet. Once that happens, it’s game over.

  18. tom67 says:

    I am German but lived in Russia and had many talks with veterans of WWII on both sides re winter gear. Relevant to today is the fact that the further East the colder it gets. Germany knows no cold like Ukrainian cold and Ukrainian winter is warm compared to Ural or Siberian winter. When the Germans invaded Russia they couldn´t draw on civilian winter boots but the Russians could. In fact German soldiers took the cloth off Russian civilians to stay alive. There is any number of civilian heavy duty winter gear in storage in Russia. No way the Russians will ever have a problem getting winter gear for their soldiers.
    Just to give you an idea:
    average temperature Kherson December: 3/-3, Moscow: -3/-7 and Irkutsk in Siberia: -10/-19

Comments are closed.