Russian soldiers risk ‘freezing to death’ amid Siberian anticyclone

Ukraine: Russian soldiers may 'freeze to death' in winter says Clarke

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The arrival of fierce winter conditions in Ukraine is set to mark a pivotal moment in the Russian invasion as thousands of Kremlin soldiers are at risk of “freezing to death”. Defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke reported that mobilised Russian troops have not been provided with the essential thermal uniforms needed to survive the harsh weather as a Siberian anticyclone threatens to plunge temperatures to a “life-threatening” low. However, Ukrainian civilians have also been placed at risk after Moscow strategically targeted the electrical grid, triggering widespread blackouts and cutting off access to heating as the winter looms. Professor Clarke declared: “The battle is on, it’s a new form of warfare now, it’s the winter war that’s starting.” 

Speaking to Sky News, Professor Clarke explained: “Winters in Ukraine can normally go to three or four degrees below freezing during the day. 

“If there is an anticyclone in Siberia, which doesn’t happen every year but it does happen, then temperatures will go to minus 20, and minus 20 is life-threatening.”

He continued: “My guess is, if it did get that cold, an awful lot of Russian troops will probably freeze to death in the trenches.

“Their winter gear is terrible, whereas the winter gear that the Ukrainian soldiers have got is much better now because it is Western gear.”

With the partial mobilisation of an additional 300,000 reserve troops, Russia’s military came under severe pressure from a critical shortage of equipment.

Videos have emerged across social media of mobilised forces arriving in Ukraine with poorly maintained Soviet weapons and a lack of proper medical and uniform supplies. In addition, some Russian battalions claimed to have been deployed without tents or sleeping bags to shield them from the cold. 

The Kremlin has since asserted that any errors regarding equipment distribution have now been resolved. By comparison, the Ukrainians have been afforded ample supplies of Western equipment specially designed for freezing conditions. 

At the start of November, the UK government announced 25,000 sets of extreme cold weather clothing will be sent to Ukraine on top of 7,000 sets of normal cold weather kits which had been provisioned at an earlier date. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared Ukraine would also receive 12,000 sleeping kits and 150 heated tents to support troops as they continue the battle through the winter months.

Read more: Putin officially isolated as EU votes to brand Russia terrorist state

Prof Clarke emphasised that it is not just the fighting forces that will struggle this winter as the civilian population of Ukraine has been made increasingly vulnerable to the blistering cold following a fierce campaign of Russian missile strikes.

He told Sky News: “The Russians are absolutely trying to take out all the electricity in Ukraine to leave the Ukrainians with no power during the winter. They can do this because the very big electric grid in Ukraine is the old Soviet grid, so the Russians know exactly where everything is.

“They are not only attacking the power stations, they are attacking the substations, even minor facilities because they know where everything is. When they have attacked them once, they will attack them a second and third time, as they are doing.

“The Ukrainians are desperately trying to repair them but they can only use Soviet equipment to repair them – they can’t use modern equipment because the system is this old awful Soviet system that was laid down in the 1970s and 1980s.”

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The UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed Kremlin forces have used uncrewed aerial vehicles to attack the Ukrainian electricity grid.

An intelligence report revealed: “Ukraine is facing a significant decrease in the power available from its national grid. This will impact civilian access to communications, heating and water supplies.”

Professor Clarke asserted: “One of the best ways that the West can help now is to help the Ukrainians repair the system as the Russians are attacking it.”

He described the coming winter months as a “new dimension” of the war and suggested the threat imposed by the possibility of a Siberian anticyclone could get “serious” very quickly.

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