The rasputitsa refers to the biannual seasons when unpaved roads become difficult to traverse in parts of Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...
. The word may be translated as the "quagmire
Quagmire may refer to:* Water infused earth or a bog. Solid ground may turn to quagmire following substantial rainfall.* By extension, a situation that is difficult to get out of.* A tactical defense made when defending a territory close to a river...
season" because during this period the large flatlands become extremely muddy and marshy, as do most unpaved roads. The term applies to both the "spring rasputitsa" and "autumn rasputitsa" and to the condition of the roads during those seasons.
The rasputitsa occurs more strongly in the spring due to the melting snow but it usually recurs in the fall due to frequent heavy rains.
The rasputitsa seasons of Russia are well known as a great defensive advantage for it in wartime. Napoleon
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...
found the mud in Russia to be a very great hindrance in 1812.
During the Second World War the month-long muddy period slowed down the German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
advance during the Battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...
, and may have helped save the Soviet capital, as well as the presence of "General Winter", that followed the autumn rasputitsa period.
The corresponding term in Finnish is rospuutto, denoting "roadlessness". Most non-paved roads in Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...
turn into mud. In olden days, this would make them virtually unusable; modern unpaved roads can be used but are dangerously slippery. In the Archipelago
Archipelago Sea is a part of the Baltic Sea between the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland and the Sea of Åland, within Finnish territorial waters...
the period is known as kelirikko (literally "weather break"), implying the ice is too thin to bear the weight of people or vehicles, but is still too hard to be passed through by seagoing vessels not equipped with icebreaker bows. The only practicable vehicles during the kelirikko are hovercraft
A hovercraft is a craft capable of traveling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a "skirt." Although supported by air, a hovercraft is not considered an aircraft.Hovercraft are used throughout...
A hydrocopter is an amphibious aircraft-propelled catamaran. The vehicle has a boat-like hull, small wheels and pontoon skids . An aircraft engine with aircraft propeller and air rudder pushes the hydrocopter across water, ice, snow and land.It is very useful in arctic coastal regions during...
s or aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...
such as helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...
s. Unlike in Russia where both the spring and fall seasons are affected, the Finnish rospuutto and kelirikko occur mainly in the spring when the snow melts and the spring rains begin.