Crude War Games

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“The fact is that the situation in Ukraine today is completely different because it involves a forced change of identity. And the most despicable thing is that the Russians in Ukraine are being forced not only to deny their roots, generations of their ancestors, but also to believe that Russia is their enemy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the path of forced assimilation, the formation of an ethnically pure Ukrainian state, aggressive towards Russia, is comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us. As a result of such harsh and artificial division of Russians and Ukrainians, the Russian people in all may decrease by hundreds of thousands or even millions.”

Vladimir Putin, July 12, 2021

Sometimes, winter is not coming. Putin would be the first to attest to that reality. For Old Man Winter is a no show in the Ukraine this year. Data via Copernicus, the EU’s Earth Observation program, reveal this winter has been 1 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer than normal. Complicating matters further, it has been wetter than usual. Thus, the Russian strongman and oil baron may never seize the opportunity of the high-water-table freezing to a sufficient extent to roll his heavy artillery and tanks across Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus, a vast area known as the Pinsk Marshes. At more than 100,000 miles, these boggy lowlands are a crowded network of streams, rivers, and tributaries. The dense woods are as tricky a landscape as Mother Nature could have ever dreamed up.

From emperors to generals, the infamous terrain has been more nightmare that fantasy. This soggy, sandy eastern European swamp expands and shrinks as a factor of time depending on how much, what form, and when precipitation falls. Autumnal rains can cause extensive overflows in the waterways while the spring thaw summons the mutinous mud that’s vexed generations of military strategists and lowly foot soldiers.

By far the costliest losses were sentenced with the signing of Führer Directive 21 on December 18, 1940. This was Hitler’s grand plan to bring Stalin and the Soviets to their knees with such swiftness that, “We have only to kick in the front door and the whole rotten edifice will come tumbling down.” Due to delays in completing operations in Greece and Yugoslavia, “Operation Barbarossa — named after Medieval Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, idolized by Hitler for his notorious appetite for conquering and destructing — would not launch until June 21, 1941.

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Danielle DiMartino Booth is founder and Chief Strategist at Quill Intelligence

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