Rasputitsa (Russian: распу́тица; [rɐsˈputʲɪtsə]) is a season when travel on unpaved roads becomes difficult, owing to muddy conditions, either from autumnal rains or spring thaw. It also refers to the condition of the roads, during those seasons.
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 the Russian Federation. The phenomenon was a hindrance in the early part of the 20th Century in the Soviet Union, when 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 in such context are General Mud or Marshal Mud. During the French invasion of Russia in 1812, Napoleon found the mud to be a great hindrance.
During the Second World War, the month-long muddy period slowed down the German advance during the Battle of Moscow, and may have helped save the Soviet capital.