Forest fires in Siberia: why Moscow dithered
Although roughly three million hectares of forest are burning in Siberia, firefighting measures were initially undertaken in just three percent of the surface area. Smoke now hangs over many cities and clearly also poses a major threat to the global climate. The situation has prompted Putin to call in the Russian army to help tackle the fires. Russian commentators ask in dismay why this action was so long in coming.
Nature counts as little as people do
Ezhednevny zhurnal sees the initial reaction of the authorities as true to form:
“The stoic approach of the regional authorities is bolstered by the bookkeeping stance of federal officials who maintain that extinguishing forest fires is economically ineffective because the costs exceed the expected damage. The same logic is successfully applied in Russian medicine, which follows the principle: why spend money on treatment when the patient is going to die sooner or later anyway? And it was applied with the pension reform: why pay people a pension when they're 55 or 60 years old if you can wait another five years until most of them are dead. It would be strange if the Russian state were to depart from the principles it applies for people when it comes to nature conservation.”
Russia's negligence now a global threat
Russia must ask itself if it really has its vast territory under control, writes journalist Alexei Melnikov in a blog entry republished by newsru.com:
“It is now apparent that the huge forest fires could accelerate global warming. Consequently they are not merely a domestic Russian problem. But if Russia is unable to manage this huge territory properly and as a result harms the rest of the world, what is to be done? Sooner or later this question will have to be asked. And it must be put to all of Russian society. We have allowed our country to be ruled by regulations that make it a threat to the rest of the world - in this case an ecological threat.”