Why Is Russia Hard to Invade?

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Since the early eighteenth century, Russia has been a major power in Europe, but its influence on a global scale has consequently made Russia a matter of desire for power hungry oppressors. However, history has shown that Russia possesses certain traits that have acted as a deterrent to invading forces. Most notably, Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812 and its association with Hitler’s failed Operation Barbarossa are prime examples; their failures were caused by a number of factors such as; faulty logistics, Russian weather and geography, which led to the overall downfall of their invasions. The word logistics originated from the Greek word logistikos; meaning “skilled at calculating”. In military terms it can be defined as the supply, movement and maintenance of an armed force. The importance of military logistics can be verified through both Napoleon and Hitler’s failed invasions of Russia. Napoleon and Hitler took advantage of the summer by commencing their invasions in June. Like previous operations in central Europe, Napoleon acquired a method to supply his massive Grand Army; by foraging the farms to feed his troops. This method worked very well as the sluggish supply lines often slowed down mass marches which gave the enemy ample time to assemble a counter-attack or mount a defence. Napoleon’s method of foraging provided a rapid and swift concentration of troops, allowing him to commit a decisive blow to the enemy. Central Europe also provided a stable network of roads that could be used in conjunction with his foraging tactic for maximum speed. Hitler’s tactics were quite the same; the blitzkrieg was used to great effect throughout central Europe. A turn of the 20th century obviously introduced new technology which hadn’t existed in Napoleon’s time; but the underlying idea of their tactics were very much the same, as they were centred around massive troop concentration alongside speed and mobility. However, unlike central Europe, Russian terrain and agriculture was very different. Their roads were in a terrible state of denial. Almost no paved roads existed. For Hitler’s armoured divisions, dust plagued their machinery. A young German, Lt August Von-Kaganek describes how the dust infected their armoured divisions “We advance in our armoured cars and the dust envelops us, were in Russia, where roads and asphalt don’t exist”. During the autumn rains, the dirt roads turned into thick mires which further slowed down Hitler’s armoured divisions; Von-Kaganek again describes how the mud was a significant unforseen factor, delaying the invasion “we suddenly had to deal with the most frightful adversary, endless mud, so gluey and sticky that it sucks and holds onto everything” these unforseen factors had further delayed the advancement and contributed to the overall failure of the invasion. For Napoleon, his consequences were much graver. A lack of food and water and the poor Russian agriculture exposed his troops to diseases which often led to death. French General Count Philip De Ségur describes “The infection of the air by the putrid carcasses of men and horses that screwed the roads, sprang two dreadful epidemics, the dysentery and typhus” the diseases that developed throughout the campaign as a result of decomposing bodies had significantly diminished Napoleon’s army, thus contributing to the overall failure if his invasion. Napoleon and Hitler had also miscalculated Russian counter to the invasion. Czar Alexander I deliberately retreated, luring Napoleon deeper and deeper into Russian territory; whilst at the same time, implementing a scorched earth policy which was essentially aimed at destroying anything that would benefit the enemy. Thus, as Napoleon pursued the retreating Russians, his troops were left with almost nothing to forage, further diminishing his troops. This was the same in 1941, as the Russians were being pushed back by the Germans. Joseph Stalin also imposed his scorched earth...
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