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31 Jul, 2019 23:22

Trump calls Putin, offers help putting out Siberia wildfires – Moscow

Trump calls Putin, offers help putting out Siberia wildfires – Moscow

US President Donald Trump has offered Russia help to battle wildfires that have swept across Siberia, the Kremlin said. Russian President Vladimir Putin declined the offer but called it a step towards improving rocky relations.

Trump called Putin on Wednesday evening, the Kremlin press service said. The Russian president expressed his “sincere gratitude” for Trump's concern and offer of a helping hand.

Putin then told his US counterpart that Russia has already dispatched multiple aircraft to Siberia to help fight the raging blaze that has spread to some 2.7 million hectares. So far, the fires have destroyed large swathes of forest, but have not encroached on residential areas. 

Also on rt.com Massive wildfires continue to rage in Siberia, emergency declared in several regions (VIDEO)

While Russia does not need third-party assistance for the time being, should such need arise it would avail of the offer, Putin said, adding that it brings a gleam of hope to the strained Russia-US relationship, which has hit new lows under the Trump administration.

The two leaders agreed to keep in touch, including through meetings in person.
A state of emergency has been declared in the five hardest-hit regions of Siberia. A total of about 2,700 firefighters are working to contain the blaze. Some 800 people have been involved in putting out the flames devouring forests in Yakutia as well, where the inferno has ripped through an area of over 1.1 million hectares.

With the efforts complicated by scorching heat and smoke that has disrupted air travel, on Wednesday Putin ordered the military to join the firefighting campaign.

A total of 10 airplanes and 10 helicopters were deployed to Krasnoyarsk Region in eastern Siberia, while armed forces in Irkutsk Region – farther south and east – were placed on high alert.

Devastating wildfires are nothing to laugh about, but the report prompted some on Twitter to remind Trump of the fire prevention advice he had for California less than a year ago.

The US president ignited a firestorm of criticism last November, after he infamously criticized Californian authorities for improper forest management, suggesting they should have spent more time “raking and cleaning” forest beds as the state was engulfed in flames.

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