Staunton, January 19 – Last summer, global warming, a drought, and Moscow’s cutbacks in its firefighting capacity meant that Siberia suffered the largest fires on record, fires exceeded in size only by those now raging in Australia. This year, Russian experts say, the absence of snow this winter and of government preparedness mean Central Russia will suffer similar fires.
The fires in Siberia this year had an enormous impact on the economic and political life of Russia east of the Urals (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/08/siberian-fires-burning-away-last-of.html), but they were largely ignored by people in Moscow and the European portions of the country because they occurred so far away.
But if Russian experts are right, Muscovites and the Russians west of the Urals will not have that luxury this year. Instead, they will have to deal with massive fires and will see first hand for themselves the consequences of both global warming and Putin’s cutbacks in the fire-fighting capability of the state, something likely to have political consequences.
The Federal Hydro-Meteorological Service is predicting that there will be a serious drought this summer in the central portions of Russia and the Russian lowlands, according to the Green Snake telegram channel n January 17, and as a result, there will be massive fires, Andrey Zakharchenko reports in Svobodnaya pressa (svpressa.ru/society/article/254893/).
European Russia has had only 10 percent of its normal snowfall this year, and that in turn means the land will be parched and thus at a much higher risk of fires than has been the case. That, of course, is only one of the consequences of this: crops will fail and water flows in the rivers will be smaller and in some cases these waterways will cease to be open to shipping.
While no one can predict with certainty what will happen – spring rains could be greater than normal or temperatures could be lower than expected – all the experts with whom the Svobodnaya pressa journalist spoke said that the risks of a disastrous summer are very large, especially because last year’s fires in Siberia showed that the government isn’t prepared.