A Russian military transport plane took off from an airfield outside Moscow early on Wednesday (1 April) and headed for the United States with a load of medical equipment and masks to help Washington fight coronavirus, Russian state TV reported.
President Vladimir Putin offered Russian help in a phone conversation with President Donald Trump on Monday, when the two leaders discussed how best to respond to the virus.
“Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by the Interfax news agency on Tuesday night.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted
‘Following phone talk between Presidents #Putin & @realDonaldTrump #Russia sends largest cargo aircraft An-124 Ruslan with medical supplies (masks + equipment) to #US to help fight #COVID19 pandemic, save lives of American citizens. The plane is en route #RussiaHelps
Confirmed US cases have surged to 187,000 and nearly 3,900 people have already died there from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
In Russia, where some doctors have questioned the accuracy of official data, the official tally of confirmed cases is 2,337 cases with 17 deaths.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been strained in recent years by everything from Syria to Ukraine to election interference, something Russia denies.
Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said Moscow hoped the United States might also be able to provide medical help to Russia if necessary when the time came.
“It is important to note that when offering assistance to US colleagues, the president (Putin) assumes that when US manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.