The health crisis resulting from Covid-19 continues to leave unpublished images on the geopolitical chessboard. After six years of sanctions, of burying a common nuclear arms control pact and accusations of interference, Russia has sent a military plane with medical and protective equipment to the United States. The Kremlin claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered this “support” to Donald Trump in a telephone conversation and that the American “accepted the humanitarian aid with gratitude”. On Monday night, the president of the United States said that Moscow had already sent the material: “Russia sent us a very, very large plane load. Medical equipment. Very nice”
"From the Russian side, in the midst of the serious epidemiological situation in the United States, assistance was offered in the form of medical and protective equipment", Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told the state agency Tass. Although he did not mention whether Russia would receive any kind of compensation or exchange for it. Early this morning, the Russian Ministry of Defence announced that the aircraft, an Antonov An-124-100, had departed from a base near Moscow. There are 164,603 diagnosed cases of coronavirus in the United States and 3,170 people have died from Covid-19. Meanwhile, in Russia, although there are still not many officially detected infected - 2,337 cases and 17 deaths - the numbers are steadily increasing and the regions are taking one self-isolation measure after another. Experts have already sounded the alarm about the lack of material and many doubts that the health system of Soviet heritage, which is underfunded and awaiting modernisation, can cope with the epidemic.
The situation once again shows the harmony between Putin and Trump over their respective administrations. "It is important to note that in offering assistance to American colleagues, the [Russian] president assumes that when U. S. manufacturers of medical equipment and materials have gained momentum, they too will be able to reciprocate if necessary", Peskov said, anticipating possible criticism of the shipment. "Now that this situation has affected everyone without exception and is global, there is no alternative to joint action in the spirit and mutual aid", Putin's spokesman said, noting that after the phone conversation between the Russian leader and Trump on Monday, "some on the U. S. side, at least, were not very helpful in addressing the technicalities quickly to promote arrangements between the two presidents."
Just over a week ago, Russia sent 15 army planes with military doctors and medical equipment to Italy, the European country most affected by the pandemic and in dire need, filling a gap before the European Union did. Following the action, some analysts, and EU and NATO diplomats and officials have seen a geopolitical gesture to claim Russian power and extend its influence and a propaganda stunt. Others, a way for Moscow to strengthen relations in view of a possible lifting of the sanctions, which were imposed on it in 2014 for the annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Italy, with 102,000 diagnosed and over 11,500 deaths, has thanked Russia for sending the aircraft with equipment and experts, who can also be trained on the ground to deal with the increase in cases in Russia.
Source: (Sahuquillo, s.f.)