Russia and other countries have sent medical aid to the United States, the hardest-hit country in the deadly coronavirus outbreak, U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday.
Russia previously sent decontamination units and military medical staff to coronavirus-hit Italy, raising questions over whether the move was an attempt at a publicity coup at home and abroad for President Vladimir Putin. Unnamed Italian officials griped that 80% of the Russian aid was “totally useless or of little use” in the country’s struggle to combat the pandemic.
“Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things. Medical equipment, which was very nice,” Trump said at a press conference without specifying the types of equipment.
China and other countries have also sent assistance to the U.S., Trump told reporters without going into further details.
The U.S. has recorded the most Covid-19 cases in the world, with more than 163,500 cases and over 3,000 deaths. More than 777,000 people have been infected worldwide and 37,000 killed by the pandemic.
Russia, in contrast, has reported 1,836 infections so far, a number that has drawn skepticism and concern over whether the country's healthcare system could handle a widespread outbreak.
The U.S. president’s announcement of foreign aid came on the same day that he and Putin discussed plunging oil prices and the coronavirus by phone.
The two "expressed serious concern regarding the scope of the spread of the coronavirus" and "discussed closer cooperation," according to a Kremlin statement on what it described as the "lengthy" phone call. The White House said in a separate statement Trump and Putin had "agreed to work closely together through the G20" against the virus and the economic shock resulting from travel bans and social distancing.
The warm relationship between Trump and Putin — seen by many Western countries as an increasingly authoritarian leader responsible for assassinations of opponents at home and abroad — has regularly caused controversy in the U.S.
AFP contributed reporting to this article.