Staunton, July 22 – There is no question that climate change as a result of global warming and disorder in Russian officialdom thanks to the pandemic explain some of the latest upsurge of forest fires in Russia which has left an area greater than the size of Belgium in flames, as Russian officials routinely say and as Russian and Western media outlets repeat.
But these devastating fires, which have been on the increase every year for the past decade, are not just the result of these natural disasters. They reflect Vladimir Putin’s dismantling of the monitoring and fire-fighting capability that existed earlier as part of his optimization campaign to save money for other purposes.
Indeed, in assessing the disaster that occurred in Russian forests last year, environmental and regional activists stressed that the country’s forests need to be saved not just from natural catastrophes but from Moscow whose actions have left ever more of the country defenseless (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/12/russias-forests-need-to-be-saved-not.html).
Last year’s fires were ten times worse than the year before, and this year’s appear likely to surpass those of 2020, destroying woodlands and wildlife and threatening watersheds and the health of the Russian people (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/05/siberian-wildfires-already-ten-times.html, zona.media/article/2021/07/22/les, dailystorm.ru/obschestvo/strana-na-pepelishche-srazu-neskolko-regionov-rossii-ohvatili-lesnye-pozhary and krizis-kopilka.ru/archives/86780).
If nothing is done, experts say, the extent of fires in Russia will be twice what they are today (rfi.fr/ru/россия/20210721-если-ничего-не-менять-в-россии-через-15-20-лет-будет-сгорать-вдвое-больше-лесов). But at present, the Putin regime and those dependent on it are content to blame climate change and the pandemic rather than to reverse their past policies and be in a better position to combat fires now and in the future (ria.ru/20210720/pozhar-1742046378.html).