Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered regional officials to do so on Tuesday more to fight the fires raging in Siberia, after at least eight people were killed over the weekend and hundreds of buildings burned down.
Putin warned that there should be no repeat of last year’s fires, which were the largest on record for Russia.
“I would like to draw particular attention to the fact that we cannot allow last year’s situation to repeat itself, when the forest fires have become the longest and most intense in recent years,” he said. “We must fight fires more efficiently, regularly, consistently and improve the quality and level of all types of prevention.”
In an online meeting broadcast on state TV, Putin said the fires are causing significant material damage and threatening life, the environment and the economy.
So far this year, there have been 4,000 forest fires over an area of 270,000 hectares, interim emergency minister Alexander Chupryan told Putin. It is an area of the same size as Luxembourg.
the The 2021 fire season was the biggest ever in Russia, with 18.8 million hectares of forest destroyed by fires, according to Greenpeace Russia. The fires spread rapidly as Siberia experienced rising temperatures, which scientists linked to human-caused climate change.
Eight people were killed on Saturday as fires ripped apart hundreds of buildings in several Siberian villages, with strong winds hindering efforts to extinguish the fires. Putin said 700 homes were damaged by the fires and in need of repairs.
“[Forests are] the ecological shield of our country and the entire planet. They play a key role in absorbing global greenhouse gas emissions, which means large-scale fires undermine our efforts to save the climate. This is a fundamental question for the whole world, for our country, “Putin said.
Russia is the fourth largest polluter in the world and a leading exporter of fossil fuels, the combustion of which is the main cause of climate change. Russia accounts for more carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel exports than any other country in the world, according to one analysis by the Australia Institute.
Many traders have avoided Russian oil since the country invaded Ukraine. The United States banned Russian imports of oil, liquefied natural gas and coal, while the European Union proposed a similar ban later this year.