Russian Winter
Overview
 
The Russian Winter is a common explanation for military failures of invaders in Russia
Russia
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...

. Common nicknames are General Frost, General Winter and General Snow. Another was "General Mud"( see "rasputitsa
Rasputitsa
The rasputitsa refers to the biannual seasons when unpaved roads become difficult to traverse in parts of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The word may be translated as the "quagmire season" because during this period the large flatlands become extremely muddy and marshy, as do most unpaved roads...

").
The average and minimum temperatures differ among Russian regions. Winter is most severe in hinterland Yakutia (where no major armed conflicts happened to date), with the lowest temperature about −65°C.
Encyclopedia
The Russian Winter is a common explanation for military failures of invaders in Russia
Russia
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...

. Common nicknames are General Frost, General Winter and General Snow. Another was "General Mud"( see "rasputitsa
Rasputitsa
The rasputitsa refers to the biannual seasons when unpaved roads become difficult to traverse in parts of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The word may be translated as the "quagmire season" because during this period the large flatlands become extremely muddy and marshy, as do most unpaved roads...

").

Temperatures

The average and minimum temperatures differ among Russian regions. Winter is most severe in hinterland Yakutia (where no major armed conflicts happened to date), with the lowest temperature about −65°C. In European Russia (west of the Ural mountains), where most battles were fought, the average winter temperature is rarely below −20°C, but varies greatly: for example, temperatures in the winter of 2005/2006 fell to −20°C or −30°C in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. In Russia this phenomenon is known as "Epiphany
Epiphany (Christian)
Epiphany, or Theophany, meaning "vision of God",...

 frosts" (крещенские морозы, krʲeˈɕɕenskʲije moˈrozɨ - referred to Orthodox Epiphany on January 15), known for centuries for its low temperatures. But most recent winters in central Russia were unusually warm. A New Year's Day without snow in Moscow and temperatures up to 10°C in the middle of winter are no longer rare.

Nevertheless, one factor for Russia's temperature is its Continental climate
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

. The other is the geography of Russia
Geography of Russia
The geography of Russia entails the physical and human geography of Russia, a country extending over much of northern Eurasia. Comprising much of eastern Europe and northern Asia, it is the world's largest country in total area. Due to its size, Russia displays both monotony and diversity. As with...

: it is as far north as Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, but has little open inland water to store the sun's energy. For example, in the Altai
Altai Republic
Altai Republic is a federal subject of Russia . Its capital is the town of Gorno-Altaysk. The area of the republic is . Population: -Geography:...

 region in August, the temperature is above 20°C during the day, but at night can fall as low as −5°C.

Effects on warfare

Since it follows the autumn rasputitsa
Rasputitsa
The rasputitsa refers to the biannual seasons when unpaved roads become difficult to traverse in parts of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. The word may be translated as the "quagmire season" because during this period the large flatlands become extremely muddy and marshy, as do most unpaved roads...

 (nearly as troublesome), the severity of Russian winter is often linked to Russian military victories. In the Great Northern War
Great Northern War
The Great Northern War was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in northern Central Europe and Eastern Europe. The initial leaders of the anti-Swedish alliance were Peter I the Great of Russia, Frederick IV of...

, Charles XII
Charles XII of Sweden
Charles XII also Carl of Sweden, , Latinized to Carolus Rex, Turkish: Demirbaş Şarl, also known as Charles the Habitué was the King of the Swedish Empire from 1697 to 1718...

 of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 invaded the Russia of Peter the Great
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 in 1707. The Russians retreated, adopting a scorched-earth policy. This winter was the most brutal of the 18th century, so severe that the salt water port of Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 froze. Charles' 35,000 troops were crippled, and by spring only 19,000 were left. The Battle of Poltava
Battle of Poltava
The Battle of Poltava on 27 June 1709 was the decisive victory of Peter I of Russia over the Swedish forces under Field Marshal Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld in one of the battles of the Great Northern War. It is widely believed to have been the beginning of Sweden's decline as a Great Power; the...

 in 1709 sealed the end of the Swedish Empire
Swedish Empire
The Swedish Empire refers to the Kingdom of Sweden between 1561 and 1721 . During this time, Sweden was one of the great European powers. In Swedish, the period is called Stormaktstiden, literally meaning "the Great Power Era"...

.

Napoleon's
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 Grande Armée
La Grande Armée
The Grande Armée first entered the annals of history when, in 1805, Napoleon I renamed the army that he had assembled on the French coast of the English Channel for the proposed invasion of Britain...

 of 610,000 men invaded Russia, heading towards Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, in 1812. The Russian army retreated before the French and again burnt their crops and villages, denying the enemy their use. Napoleon's army was ultimately reduced to 100,000. His army suffered further, even more disastrous losses on the retreat from Moscow. According to an American military study, the main body of Napoleon's Grande Armée, initially at least 378,000 strong, "diminished by half during the first eight weeks of his invasion, before the major battle of the campaign. This decrease was partly due to garrisoning supply centres, but disease, desertions, and casualties sustained in various minor actions caused thousands of losses. At Borodino
Borodino
Borodino is a rural locality in Mozhaysky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, located west of Mozhaysk.The village is famous as the location of the Battle of Borodino, which occurred in what is now known as the "Borodino Battlefield" . The State Borodino War and History Museum and Reserve is...

 on 7 September 1812—the only major engagement fought in Russia—Napoleon could muster no more than 135,000 troops and he lost at least 30,000 of them to gain a narrow and Pyrrhic victory
Pyrrhic victory
A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost to the victor that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately cause defeat.-Origin:...

 almost 600 miles inside hostile territory. The sequels were his uncontested and self-defeating occupation of Moscow and his humiliating retreat, which began on 19 October, before the first severe frosts later that month and the first snow on 5 November."

During WWII the only cold winter was in 1941-1942, and the Wehrmacht lacked necessary supplies, such as winter uniforms, due to the many delays in the German army's movements. Hitler's plans for Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 also miscarried before the onset of severe winter weather: he was so confident of a quick victory that he did not prepare for even the possibility of winter warfare in Russia. Yet his eastern army suffered more than 734,000 casualties (about 23% of its average strength of 3,200,000) during the first five months of the invasion. On 27 November 1941, General Eduard Wagner
Eduard Wagner
General Eduard Wagner was a German Artillery officer who was the quartermaster-general of the German Army and a member of the resistance to Adolf Hitler....

, the Quartermaster General of the German Army, reported that
"We are at the end of our resources in both personnel and materiel. We are about to be confronted with the dangers of deep winter."

See also

  • Arctic warfare
    Arctic warfare
    Arctic warfare or winter warfare is a term used to describe armed conflict that takes place in an exceptionally cold weather, usually in snowy and icy terrain, sometimes on ice-covered bodies of water...

  • Climate of Russia
    Climate of Russia
    The climate of Russia is formed under the influence of several determining factors. The enormous size of the country and the remoteness of many areas from the sea result in the dominance of the continental climate, which is prevalent in European and Asian Russia except for the tundra and the...

  • Winter War
    Winter War
    The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 – three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland – and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty...


External links

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