Russian plane with coronavirus medical gear lands in U.S.
Russia sent the United States medical equipment on Wednesday to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, a public relations coup for Russian President Vladimir Putin after he discussed the crisis with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trump, struggling to fill shortages of ventilators and personal protective equipment, accepted Putin’s offer in a phone call on Monday. A Russian military transport plane left an airfield outside Moscow and arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in late afternoon on Wednesday.
Emergency aid to Washington was a striking development. Usually, the United States donates supplies to embattled countries rather than accepting them. The origin of the gift was bound to revive criticism from Democrats that Trump has been too cozy with the Russian leader.
“Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by the Interfax news agency on Tuesday. Trump himself spoke enthusiastically about the Russian help after his call with Putin.
A U.S. official in Washington confirmed the shipment was a direct result of Trump’s phone conversation with Putin. The official said it carried 60 tons of ventilators, masks, respirators and other items.
The official said the equipment would be carefully examined to make sure it comports with the quality requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Russia’s Rossiya 24 channel on Wednesday morning showed the plane taking off from a military air base outside Moscow in darkness. Its cargo hold was filled with cardboard boxes and other packages.
Confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases have surged to more than 215,000, with 5,100 deaths.
In Russia, the official tally of confirmed cases is 3548, with 30 deaths, although some doctors there have questioned the accuracy of official data.