During the first week of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that had commenced on February 24, it was discovered via satellite images that a 40-mile-convoy said to be comprised of tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery was on its way to Kyiv  19 miles outside of the Ukrainian capital. Many days later, the convoy is still there, as news outlet scratch their heads again about the seeming inertia of Russia’s “Terrifying War Machine” that was supposedly moving to circle Ukrainian cities.

With the convoy literally at a standstill, the 40-mile-convoy is not only useless to the Russian arm, but it is also the largest military target the Ukrainian Air Force can bomb with rockets, artillery, aircraft and their Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones. Retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe of the NATO forces, called the convoy “the biggest, fattest target in Ukraine” and that fighter jets should blow it up. However, Russia still has an edge with its Air Force compared to Ukraine’s own, so it probably wouldn’t risk losing its already depleted supply of fighter jets. So far Ukraine seems to have been careful not to take the Russian air force on Mig against Mig but seeks engagements, where its limited number of Mig-29s, can ambush Russian helicopters and slower-moving attack aircraft.

Quite frankly, with numerous indications that the morale of Russian troops is in the toilet amid shortages of food, fuel, water and a lack of knowledge about their purpose in Ukraine, it would not be a far-flung assertion to say the 40-mile-convoy is actually a parking lot to replace vehicles already destroyed in scores and to try to alleviate their chronic supply shortages. Of course, the new problem is getting enough fuel(specifically diesel) in tanker trucks up there to get them moving.

A satellite image of the 40-mile-convoy southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine (Maxar Technologies via NPR). Source: https://www.npr.org/2022/03/01/1083733700/russias-40-mile-convoy-has-stalled-on-its-way-to-kyiv-a-u-s-official-says
A satellite image of the 40-mile-convoy southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine (Maxar Technologies via NPR)

What the images don’t show is almost as telling as what they do.  There is a marked absence of tanks, armored personnel carriers,towed and tracked artillery, or signs that massed Russian troops are in the wood in any numbers. It is also of note the manner in which the trucks are assembled, not concealed,  a two and three wide on the road. Having seen numerous pictures of Russian army wheeled vehicles stuck up to their axels in mud off road, it very much appears as if the Russia army is confined to the hard paved roads.

Hunger, thirst, low supplies, bad leadership and cold weather are ruinous to any army. The weather in Ukraine is in the 30s-40s during the day ans drops into the 20s and below at night. Ukraine has a 10 month rainy season that began in February and will run until December which combined with thawing snow will make dirt roads and off road a serious problem for Russian tanks and trucks.  Ukraine was Russia’s “Bread basket” during the Soviet Union, growing most of their wheat and corn with very rich soil that in some places can run as deep as 400 feet.  If you’ve seen Russian vehicles carrying logs they are used to create ad hoc bridges over wet muddy ground, in some instances they are also being used as additional armor protection which might help with small arms but would not stop heavier caliber rounds. In fact, they would likely create a mass of sharp, flying splinters if hit by something the size of a .50 round.