Russia sent the United States medical equipment on Wednesday to help the country fight the COVID-19 pandemic, after Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the crisis in a phone call on March 30. However some critics say Russia does not have enough for its own needs.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Russia had paid half the cost with the other half being paid by the United States. According to CTV News, the foreign ministry said the part paid by Russia was sponsored by Russia’s state investment fund.
“The United States has agreed to purchase needed medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protection equipment, from Russia,” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
A Russian military plane carrying protective gear and ventilators landed in New York City on Wednesday and the equipment was passed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New York City on the same day.
A U.S. official quoted by Reuters said that the shipment contained 60 tons of ventilators, masks, respirators, and other items, and would be examined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ensure it complies with U.S. standards and requirements.
Usually, the United States donates supplies to embattled countries rather than accepting them.
“We are a generous and reliable contributor to crisis response and humanitarian action across the world, but we cannot do it alone,” Ortagus said.
“Both countries have provided humanitarian assistance to each other in times of crisis in the past and will no doubt do so again in the future,” Ortagus added. “This is a time to work together to overcome a common enemy that threatens the lives of all of us.”
Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin’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 U.S. colleagues, the president [Putin] assumes that when U.S. manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.
Russia’s shipment of medical necessities to the United States met with some criticism in Russia.
“Russia has actually sold the United States masks and medical equipment when doctors and nurses across the country are left without masks and are infecting one another,” prominent opposition politician Alexei Navalny wrote on Twitter.
Novaya Gazeta reported that doctors at a hospital in the Moscow region had been asked to sew their own masks.
Meanwhile, the medical workers trade union has been collecting funds to buy protective clothes for doctors.
Russian Health Ministry said that the country is prepared to curb the virus and has enough ventilators for its own use but some people on Twitter pointed out places experiencing shortages.
There are currently 226,374 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, reported in the United States. The total numbers of deaths due to COVID-19 in the United States is 5,316, of which 1,374 occurred in New York City, according to John Hopkins University.
In Russia the total of 3,548 confirmed cases and 30 deaths were reported, according to the same source.
Reuters contributed to this report.