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====Russia and its geography====
[[File: Mazepa2.jpg|300px|thumbnail|left|Charles XII and the leader of the Cossack rebels after the defeat at Poltava]]
The sheer scale of Russia and its endless Steppes proved simply too much for the Swedes. Like subsequent invaders, they struggled in the vast landscape with its harsh climate. The Swedes were inured to Arctic weather, yet even they felt it was extremely challenging fighting in the Ukrainian Plains<ref> Voltaire, p. 89</ref>
. Charles lost many men to the extreme cold and to frost bite. Furthermore, they were far from home and their supplies were scant. Trying to live off the land was futile as the Steppes had no real population centres and those who lived there were usually destitute<ref> Hatton, p. 217</ref> . The sheer scale of Russia meant that Charles army was in a state of near physical collapse when it encountered the enemy at Poltava and even if it had won here, it seems likely that it would have disintegrated as Napoleon’s Grand Armee had in the winter of 1813.
====The Cossack Alliance====