In recent years, Russia has experienced especially widespread forest fires, which experts have blamed on unusually dry summers and high temperatures. The link between the climate crisis and wildfires is complex, but a Carbon Brief analysis quotes Dr Cristina Santin, a wildfires researcher from Swansea University, as saying increased temperatures “can increase the risk of severe fires by causing vegetation to dry out”.
The experts also cited a 2007 decision to disband a federal aviation network that spotted and fought fires. Its assets were turned over to regional authorities, leading to the force’s rapid decline and attracting much criticism. While the government later reestablished the agency, its resources remained limited, hampering its ability to monitor the massive forests of Siberia and the far east.
Forest fires were especially bad in 2021, when more than 18.16m hectares were destroyed, a record since satellite monitoring began, according to Greenpeace. The fire that raged through Siberia that year was bigger than fires in Greece, Turkey, Italy, the US and Canada combined.