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    Politicization Impedes Firefighting on Balkans by Russian Emergencies Ministry

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    The Russian Ministry for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters does not participate in extinguishing fires in the Balkan region due to politicization of this issue and administrative obstacles, Director of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center in the city of Nis Viacheslav Vlasenko told Sputnik Monday.

    BELGRADE (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Montenegro sent a request for international assistance in combating spontaneous fires through the EU civil protection mechanism. The authorities acknowledged the country lacked emergency services and equipment to extinguish fires on the Adriatic coast and in the suburbs of its capital Podgorica. However, RSHC told Sputnik there had been no requests for assistance.

    "There are certain political moments that sometimes have a negative impact, for example, last year, when Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia were burning, EMERCOM of Russia offered its help, and the countries refused, said they would cope on their own. During fires, for example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they want to use military helicopters, UN helicopters and have not yet applied to us," Vlasenko said.

    NATO members Montenegro and Croatia, where there are especially severe fires on the coast, can only send a few Canadair, Airtractor airplanes and helicopters from the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Air Force to extinguish them.

    "In 2012, when Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina were burning, Il-76, Be-200 and Ka-32 arrived from Russia to the airport of Nis from Russia, they arrived quite quickly, literally in a couple of days, but, of course, this is on demand (of local authorities) and if there is an interstate agreement on interaction in emergency situations," the RSHC head noted.

    The Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center is an intergovernmental organization carrying out an emergency humanitarian response in Serbia and the Balkans headquartered in the city of Nis. Over the years, the center and the Russian EMERCOM have repeatedly provided assistance to the countries of the region in floods and forest fires. Officials in Russia and Serbia have repeatedly publicly denied accusations of a "spying" function of the center, inviting other countries to participate in its work.

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    firefighting, EMERCOM, Balkans, Russia
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