Large wildfires throughout Siberia are being left to burn as Russia focuses its resources on the war in Ukraine. Russia had a record-setting fire year in 2021, and 2022 is starting out at the same pace as fire season has arrived in Russia several months early. Extremely dry and warm spring conditions and high winds are creating major fire hazards as powerlines are going down and sparking hundreds of fires across the region. In more populated regions of southern and central Siberia, dozens have been hurt and killed from fires.
In Russia, local groups fight fires with assistance from the Russian military following requests from local government officials. But this year, observers say, local officials aren’t making requests, and those requests that have been submitted are being ignored as the Russian government focuses personnel and equipment on the Ukraine War. Weather conditions have been so extreme that air-borne firefighting with water and retardant drops has been unavailable as well. Officials are worried since firefighting resources are always stretched thin, even in “normal” fire seasons.