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

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

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

The Russian leader then told his US counterpart that Russia has already dispatched multiple aircraft to Siberia to help fight off 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 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 itself of the offer, Putin said, adding that it brings a gleam of hope for the strained Russia-US relationship, which hit new lows under the Trump administration.

The two leaders agreed to keep in touch, including through meetings in person.
States of emergency have 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 the 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.

Ten airplanes and ten helicopters were deployed to the Krasnoyarsk region in eastern Siberia, while armed forces in the Irkutsk region – farther south and east – were placed on high alert.

Devastating wildfires are nothing to laugh at, but the report prompted some on Twitter to remind Trump of the fire prevention advice he had for California not a year back.

The US president ignited a firestorm of criticism last November, after he infamously criticized the California 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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