‘Weather is clearly a factor’ in Russia-Ukraine conflict, analyst says

Ret. Gen. Jack Keane: Frozen ground in Ukraine begins to thaw in March and makes moving military equipment a challenge

Seasonal mud could pose a challenge for any escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a FOX News analyst said Friday.

President Joe Biden has said he believes a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent. Russia has claimed there are no plans to launch an attack. However, recent shelling in eastern Ukraine has increased fears of incursion.

Ret. Gen. Jack Keane, chairman of the Institute for the Study of War and the senior strategic analyst for FOX News, said he believes Russia is trying to begin operations before soggy ground frozen by winter begins to thaw.

"The ground is frozen," Keane said during an interview on FOX Weather Sunrise. "It’s at its peak right now, and look where we are."

Keane, a retired four-star general, said the spring mud in the region has long played a role in Russian warfare, having saved the country from foreign invasions in the past.

"Now, the Russians are attacking," Keane said. "They are the maneuver force, and that is why, I think, the timing of this attack is influenced significantly, by the weather conditions."

Keane said unpaved roads turn into ravines of mud when snow and ice begin to melt in mid-to-late March. The muck can mire tanks and make moving military equipment a challenge, even in the 21st Century.

"Here we are, 2022, and the Russian military leaders are selecting a period of time when the conditions are most favorable – the ground is frozen – for armor operations," Keane said.

However, Keane said, modern warfare, with things like airplanes and guided missiles, has made it easier to fight in even the sloppiest of conditions.

"Even the bombs that we drop are precision-guided munitions, and Russia has all of these, and they can be dropped from very high altitudes with an enormous sense of accuracy," Keane said.

The weather forecast for Donetsk, a focal point of recent conflicts between the two countries, shows high temperatures in the 40s and low temperatures near freezing for the next several days. Cloudy and rainy conditions are expected through much of next week.

"The weather is clearly a factor in the geography and timeline selection," Keane said.