President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday western Russia was facing a “difficult” situation as smoke from forest fires reached the capital Moscow.
“Due to abnormal weather conditions in a number of regions of the European part of the country, the situation right now is difficult,” Putin said during a televised meeting with regional officials.
Putin mentioned in particular the Ryazan region — some 250 kilometres (155 miles) southeast of Moscow — where “due to strong winds” fires continue to spread.
More than 9,500 firefighters and rescuers have been sent to battle the fires, as well as eight planes and seven helicopters, acting governor of the region Pavel Malkov told Putin.
Malkov, however, said that the fires “will be brought under control within two or three days and fully extinguished within one or two weeks”.
Last week, smoke from the Ryazan fires reached parts of Moscow and once again blanketed the capital on Monday.
“Smoke periodically covers Moscow but the situation is becoming more controllable now,” said Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin.
Scientists are blaming a slew of forest fires across Europe in what has been an summer of unusually high temperatures on climate change and Russia has been no exception, with several breaking out in Siberia and the country’s far east.