Story at a glance
- Putin authorized medical aid to be sent to the U.S. to fight the coronavirus spread.
- Russia also sent equipment to Italy.
- Russia hopes that if the time comes, the U.S. will reciprocate the gesture.
Russia sent a military plane full of coronavirus aid and equipment to the U.S. on Wednesday, Reuters reports.
The aid came following a phone call on Monday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump.
“Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly said on the Russian news agency Interfax on Tuesday night, per Reuters reporting.
Russia also sent medical aid to Italy, whose medical system is under immense strain from skyrocketing coronavirus case numbers. Reports state that at least 15 flights carried disinfection units as well as eight medical brigades and another 100 emergency staff.
Moscow sends this aid hoping that if the time comes, the U.S. will reciprocate and provide medical relief in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s longtime spokesman, reportedly said that “It is important to note that when offering assistance to U.S. colleagues, the president [Putin] assumes that when U.S. manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Reuters writes.
This aid comes as the U.S. currently leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, with the count standing at 189,633, per Johns Hopkins data. Medical supplies, specifically personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators, remain scarce, straining the U.S. health care apparatus.
Conversely, Russia’s case number is much smaller, with Johns Hopkins reporting 2,777 confirmed cases. There is some speculation regarding the Russia government’s data, with Reuters writing the official count is at 2,337 cases.
The aid comes as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia has been increasingly scrutinized, partly rooted in allegations of Russia’s election interference.
Peskov reportedly “complained” about barriers that hindered efforts to get aid to the U.S.
Reuters reports that Peskov explained that Russia and China cooperated to swiftly channel aid “at a time when the current situation affects everyone without exception ... there is no alternative to working together in a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance”.