Fears his tanks would get stuck in the mud may have forced Vladimir Putin to postpone Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine, US officials believe.
Around 100,000 Russian troops, tanks and armoured personnel carriers have been stationed on the border between the two countries for several weeks.
The ground there is usually frozen solid in winter, which is conducive to an advance by heavy vehicles.
Fears his tanks would get stuck in the mud may have forced Vladimir Putin to postpone Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, US officials believe (pictured on Monday)
However, a period of mild weather has melted the ice and created a muddy quagmire.
The unusually clement conditions have caused the Kremlin to reconsider its military options, according to weather experts advising US President Joe Biden.
A team of White House meteorologists are convinced the changes in ground conditions have brought Russia’s plans to advance to a halt.
They have been monitoring temperatures and weather patterns since the build-up of Russian troops began in November last year.
Since then the tempo of Russian military operations pointed to a January invasion of Ukraine.
The unusually clement conditions have caused the Kremlin to reconsider its military options, according to US weather experts (Ukrainian troops pictured on the frontline today)
But this scenario is now considered significantly less likely, officials told the New York Times yesterday.
‘Officials say the Russian president’s window for an invasion is limited, dictated by temperatures that will freeze the ground – allowing for the easy movement of heavy vehicles and equipment – before a spring thaw, which could begin by March,’ the paper reported.
In a bid to get around issues caused by the ground conditions, Russia has deployed more helicopters to the region, so troops could be flown into battle. But this option is more challenging logistically.
The view of US weather experts has emerged as diplomats on all sides continue to seek a peaceful resolution to the dispute.
High stakes talks in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday between US and Russian negotiators failed to achieve a breakthrough.
Around 100,000 Russian troops, tanks and armoured personnel carriers have been stationed on the border (pictured)
Russia has threatened to invade Ukraine as an act of self-defence – because it says it fears threatened by the build-up of Western troops and military hardware in the former Soviet republic.
The Kremlin is seeking the withdrawal of Western troops from Ukraine, the Baltic States and other territories which previously belonged to the Soviet Union. It also wants assurances that Ukraine will not be permitted to join Nato.
The US has repeatedly dismissed these demands as ‘non-starters’ – although Nato may reduce military exercises in countries bordering Russia.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said on Tuesday that Moscow is going to know in the coming days if ‘the talks make sense and where we should be going.’
He said Russia does not have a specific timeline for any outcome of the talks but insisted that Moscow was not prepared to watch Washington drag its feet on the negotiations.
Mr Peskov also lashed out at the US for leaking a planned menu of sanctions against Russia to deter it from invading Ukraine, which, he said, ‘definitely did not help to build a constructive environment ahead of the talks.’
More diplomatic efforts are expected this week in a bid to find a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis: Russian diplomats are meeting with Nato officials on Wednesday and with OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) on Thursday.