Mon, 25 May 2020
Fair in San Francisco

Russia says it has sent a military plane with medical equipment to the United States to help in its battle to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Russia's Rossia 24 state television channel showed the transport aircraft taking off on April 1 from a military base near Moscow.

The shipment appears to be the result of a March 30 phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, where the response to the virus pandemic was reportedly discussed.

"Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,' Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying late on March 31.

Washington has not confirmed the flight, but Trump spoke about receiving aid from Russia during a March 30 briefing.

Many critics of Moscow have warned that Russia is using aid -- it recently sent planeloads of supplies and dozens of experts to Italy -- as part of a campaign of disinformation and propaganda to sow fear abroad while bolstering Putin at home.

Meanwhile, Trump, who has touted his close relationship with Putin, has faced similar warnings at home from those concerned that Moscow is using such actions to gain influence.

U.S deaths in the coronavirus pandemic pushed past 4,000 as of early April 1, a day after Americans were told to brace for 'very painful' weeks ahead and a potential U.S. death toll well over 100,000.

The government is racing to build temporary hospitals near major cities to ease the strain on health-care facilities as officials predict things will get much worse in the coming weeks.

In Russia, where the accuracy of official data has been questioned, the number of confirmed cases has jumped in recent days, but still appears low compared with other European nations.

The country's official tally puts the total number of cases at 2,777 as of midday on April 1, with 24 deaths.

With reporting by Rossiya 24, Interfax, Reuters, and TASS.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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