According to the defense ministry in Moscow, Putin has directed a Russian military plane carrying medical equipment to depart for the United States, as the Kremlin flexes its soft power amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Antonov-124, “with medical masks and medical equipment on board”, left for the U.S. overnight, a statement said, without providing further details.
Contacted by AFP, the defense ministry refused to provide any further information on the delivery, which came after Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Monday.
Russia has previously sent medical supplies and experts to coronavirus-hit Italy as part of a humanitarian effort that analysts said carried geopolitical overtones.
Mr. Trump said earlier this week that “Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice.”
The U.S. now has 188,663 confirmed coronavirus cases, by far the highest of any country, according to a Johns Hopkins tally, and more than 4,000 deaths. Health officials in Russia have registered a sharp increase in the number of infections, with 2,337 cases and 17 deaths confirmed, according to the latest figures Wednesday.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Putin expected the U.S. to return the gesture if Russia faces a similar crisis and U.S. producers have increased their capacity to produce medical supplies.
For more information visit our friends at CBS News.