Rasputitsa (Russian: распу́тица, IPA: [rɐsˈputʲɪtsə]) is a Russian language term for two periods of the year (or "seasons") when travel on unpaved roads becomes difficult, owing to muddy conditions from rain or thawing snow. That is, it is applied to both the northern spring and northern autumn. The word "rasputitsa" is also used to refer to the condition of roads during both periods.
The term is applied to muddy road conditions in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, which are caused by the poor drainage of underlying clay-laden soils found in the region. Roads are subject to weight limitations and closures during the period in certain districts of Russia. The phenomenon was a hindrance in the early 20th century in the Soviet Union since 40% of rural villages were not served by paved roads.
Rasputitsa seasons of Russia are well known as a great defensive advantage in wartime. Common nicknames are General Mud or Marshal Mud. During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, Napoleon found the mud to be a great hindrance.
Village street near Moscow, November 1941
Wehrmacht horse carriage sunk in deep mud in Kursk Oblast, March–April 1942
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- Siegelbaum, Lewis H. (2011). Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 309. ISBN 9780801461484. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
- FAQ regarding what made Napoleon fail in invading Russia, Napoleon -series website
- M. Adolphe Thiers (1864). History of the Consulate and the Empire of France under Napoleon. IV. Translated by D. Forbes Campbell; H. W. Herbert. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. p. 243.
whilst it was almost impossible to drag the gun-carriages through the half-frozen mud(regarding November 20, 1812)
- Overy, Richard (1997). Russia's War. London: Penguin. pp. 113–114. ISBN 1-57500-051-2.
Both sides now struggled in the autumn mud. On October 6  the first snow had fallen, unusually early. It soon melted, turning the whole landscape into its habitual trackless state – the rasputitsa, literally the ‘time without roads’.... It is commonplace to attribute the German failure to take Moscow to the sudden change in the weather. While it is certainly true that German progress slowed, it had already been slowing because of the fanatical resistance of Soviet forces and the problem of moving supplies over the long distances through occupied territory. The mud slowed the Soviet build-up also, and hampered the rapid deployment of men and machines.