• Tweeter
  • republish

Forest fires in Russia have already burned nearly 12 million hectares. On July 30, 2019, Be-200 bombers began arriving on the scene. AFP Photos / Press service of Russia's Krasnoyarsk Krai's forestry

The Russian president has ordered the Russian army to mobilize to fight against the flames that devour several areas of Siberia. In particular, planes and helicopters will be sent to the Krasnoyarsk region. But the reaction is described as " late " by the organizations of defense of the environment.

Three million hectares: this is the surface currently burning in Siberia, the equivalent of the area of ​​Belgium. But according to Greenpeace Russia , already 12 million hectares of Siberian forest have gone up in smoke.

A late decision

This Wednesday, July 31, after weeks of assumed passivity, the Russian authorities have finally decided to deploy additional resources to fight against the flames. Ten airplanes and ten helicopters will be sent by the army to the Krasnoyarsk region. Late decision and probably insufficient in view of the magnitude of the fires.

For the moment, forest fires affect only uninhabited areas which explains the inaction of the authorities. But the black fumes that cover Siberia and affect the largest cities in the region cause concern and exasperation of the inhabitants.

►Also read: Portugal: more than 2500 firefighters mobilized against fires in the center

Another reason for concern is the major ecological impact that these gigantic fires could cause. " Forest fires are accelerating climate change ," said Andrei Allakhverdov, of the NGO Greenpeace Russia . First, because of the very high emissions of carbon dioxide, and the destruction of the forest that will no longer be able to absorb CO2. But also because of the soot that is found in the Arctic. Soot blackens the ice and prevents it from returning the sun's rays. The ice then retains the heat, it warms up and melts. "

"Control areas"

To justify their inaction in the face of the flames, the authorities invoked a 2015 bylaw authorizing the governors not to intervene against the flames. If they consider that the cost of fire operations is greater than the destruction caused by fires. An economic argument that infuriates the inhabitants of regions affected by fumes, and threatened by the flames. " The authorities have defined" control zones "within which they have the right to do nothing ," said Andrei Allakhverdov.

►Also read: Mount Kenya National Park ravaged by fires

This operation is all the more convenient in that the means of fighting fire are sorely lacking in the regions concerned. The local and national authorities also explain that the fumes generated by the fires do not pose a danger to the inhabitants of the localities affected. This also provokes the anger of the local population.

Some residents even photographed themselves with gas masks to protest the government's " guilty " inaction. The exasperation is such that an online petition demanding the establishment of the state of emergency in all regions of Siberia has, to date, collected more than 860,000 signatures.