Putin orders military to help put off wildfires

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the Defense Ministry to join in the process of extinguishing wildfires in Siberia and the Far East, the Kremlin said in a statement on Wednesday.

Putin also ordered to retain until further notice the grouping of the Armed Forces in the Siberian Irkutsk Region sent there to help local population to eliminate the consequences of the floods, which hit the region last month, the statement said.

Putin made this decision after listening to a report presented by the Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev, it said.

On Tuesday, Zinichev reported to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, stating that, although wildfires did not pose immediate threat to settlements and people’s lives, five of the ministry’s aircraft were involved in extinguishing them and another 10 were ready for redeployment.

Russia has so far declared a state of emergency in four regions of Siberia and the Far East because of the wildfires.

According to the latest data by the Russian Aerial Forest Protection Service, by Wednesday, fires were raging on an area of nearly 3 million hectares, of which active extinguishing activities were held on an area of 107,123 hectares.

It said 2,720 people and 390 units of equipment were involved in extinguishing forest fires, while 34 aircraft were involved in monitoring fires and 28 in fire extinguishing.

The service was constantly monitoring 321 wild forest fires in seven regions on 2,882,527 hectares of remote areas, it said.