Winter is coming, which will make it difficult for Ukraine to continue its advances against Russia. The next several months—known by historians as rasputitsa, or disagreeable travel—have been the great enemy of Eurasian armies for centuries. Soldiers call this period “General Mud,” shorthand for the harsh environmental conditions that brought Russia’s French and German invaders to their knees in 1812 and 1943, respectively.
But the harsh winter should be seen as a time to make preparations for the spring, not to pause all operations. Ukraine should continue its long-range attacks against vulnerable Russia ammunition depots, command centers and supply lines. With help from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Kyiv should also begin a deliberate effort to reconstitute its military strength in time for the 2023 campaign season.
The various preparations that Ukraine must make are obvious: Harden defensive positions along the current frontlines, integrate replacement troops into units, and issue winter clothing and equipment. This is the leitmotif of any military after a long campaign, but it would be a missed opportunity to stop there. Ukraine needs a more comprehensive approach, which should accelerate the delivery of the still-vast military stockpiles and training capacity of NATO countries to regenerate its army as its Russian adversary struggles to resupply its troops and incorporate its mobilized reserves.