Russian troops describe grueling conditions on the front line where they are 'wet from head to toe' and can't even boil a cup of tea, UK intel says

Ukrainian soldiers in a trench under Russian shelling on the frontline close to Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, March 5, 2023.
Ukrainian soldiers in a muddy trench in March show the difficult conditions both sides could face as winter arrives.AP Photo/Libkos
  • Russian troops are living in grueling conditions on the front line in Ukraine, the UK MoD said.

  • Soldiers described being "wet from head to toe" for weeks at a time, per the report.

  • They also described eating "monotonous food" and not even being able to boil a mug of tea.

Russian soldiers are experiencing increasingly grueling conditions on the front line in Ukraine as winter approaches, according to an intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Sunday.

Soldiers who had recently returned from the front line described being "wet from head to toe" for weeks at a time while speaking at the Ogakov Readings military affairs conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

The soldiers said they ate "monotonous" food in muddy conditions, and one said they were not even able to boil a cup of tea because lighting a fire would risk alerting Ukrainian forces.

The update also noted that keeping up decent living conditions in defensive positions was a challenge for all forces, but open-source evidence highlighted "a generally very poor level" of "basic field administration amongst Russian forces."

It said this was likely due to a scarcity of "motivated junior commanders" and "variable logistical support," per the MoD.

As the Russia-Ukraine war enters its second winter, fighting continues to rage around the country, and Ukraine's notoriously snowy and icy winters will likely pose challenges for both sides, especially when it comes to operating weaponry, moving troops and equipment, and maintaining soldiers' well-being.

This will likely mean artillery remains a key weapon in the conflict, as static troops and barren landscapes will make it difficult for forces on both sides to conceal themselves, Colonel Oleksandr Popov, an artillery commander, told Reuters.

"It's one thing to run 300 metres to an enemy position in June, and totally another when you are up to your knees in mud, warm clothes, protective gear, a backpack with spare clothes," he added.

Ukraine's top general Valerii Zaluzhnyi told The Economist this week that the war was at a stalemate, an assessment which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy disputed.

Ukraine's counteroffensive has so far failed to make significant gains, and Russia is continuing to try and push forward in the eastern city Avdiivka.

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