US Getting Medical Supplies From a Surprising Source

Russia has dispatched a plane with masks and other medical gear
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2020 2:08 PM CDT
US Getting Medical Supplies From a Surprising Source
That's Vladimir Putin in yellow, during a visit to the hospital for coronavirus patients in Kommunarka, outside Moscow, Russia.   (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

It's Vladimir Putin to the rescue? Russia has sent a military cargo plane to the US with masks and other medical equipment, reports Politico. It was due to arrive Wednesday, though the exact details of what it's carrying remain unclear. The move came after a one-on-one phone call between Putin and President Trump, according to a tweet by Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The tweet showed boxes loaded onto the aircraft. Trump made reference to the supplies on Monday, saying "Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice," per the Washington Post, which notes Trump was "apparently mistaken" about the schedule of the plane, which took off Wednesday. Said Putin spokesman Dmitri Peskov: "Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid."

Skeptics, though, smell a propaganda coup. At Foreign Policy, Elisabeth Braw writes that Russia previously sent a planeload of aid to Italy, but "the Italians discovered that the vast majority of the supplies were useless for coronavirus treatment." Local media quoted an Italian doctor who estimated that 80% of the stuff was irrelevant for COVID-19 treatment. So far, Russian coronavirus cases have been relatively light, with the official number at fewer than 2,800. However, the Guardian notes that Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has been sounding the alarm that the figure is too low. Russia's death toll was at 24 on Wednesday, according to the count at Johns Hopkins. (More coronavirus stories.)

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