With Russian troops digging trenches to prepare for an expected winter standoff, it would be easy to conclude that fighting will slow in Ukraine until after the ground thaws in the spring.

But evidence from the Ukrainian battlefields point to a different trajectory.

As a career U.S. special forces officer who conducted field research on the 2008 and 2014 wars in Georgia and Ukraine, it is my view that this war has demonstrated that only one side, the Ukrainians, can execute effective combat maneuvers. I believe that the Ukrainians will attempt to launch a large-scale counteroffensive in late winter when the ground is still frozen.

Winter’s impact on war

Historically, the pace of fighting does slow in the winter.

Weapons and other equipment can freeze up in extreme cold, and it’s much more difficult to shoot a weapon while wearing thick gloves.

Shorter days are a factor. Despite technological advances, most of the fighting during this war has occurred during the day.

But this winter may be different for the Ukrainian military.

First, Ukrainian winters are not nearly as cold and snowy as many believe.