Russia has filled one of its largest cargo planes full of medical equipment and supplies and sent it to the U.S. to help assist in the ongoing fight against coronavirus.
The Russian Foreign Ministry shared a video to Twitter of the plane, an AN-124 Ruslan cargo plane, filled with boxes of masks and equipment taking off from a runway overnight. The tweet indicated the cargo shipment came as the result of talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
🇷🇺🇺🇸 Following phone talk between Presidents #Putin & @realDonaldTrump #Russia sends largest cargo aircraft An-124 Ruslan ✈️ with 😷 medical supplies (masks + equipment) to #US to help fight #COVID19 pandemic, save lives of American citizens. 🤝 The plane is en route #RussiaHelps pic.twitter.com/efeSK78cuB
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) April 1, 2020
President Donald Trump first indicated Russia was sending medical supplies during his Monday press briefing on the White House’s coronavirus efforts.
“And I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries,” Trump said Monday. “China sent us some stuff, which was terrific. Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice.”
Russia reportedly did not send the cargo plane with supplies until Wednesday. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov said in a statement that, “Technical coordination and preparations for the flight of a Russian plane went on during the day. The plane is expected to take off by the end of the day.”
“Being aware of the serious epidemiological situation in America, the Russian side offered medical equipment and protective gear as assistance,” Peskov added.
Russia’s embassy in the U.S. indicated in a Tuesday tweet that Putin was considering providing the medical aid with the expectation that the U.S. may reciprocate the act, if needed.
Importantly, when offering assistance to the American colleagues, President Putin is guided by the following consideration: when manufacturers of medical equipment gain momentum they will be able to reciprocate if need be – #Peskov https://t.co/tFzUo330ga
— Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) March 31, 2020
The flight full of medical supplies comes as the Trump administration has braced for the coronavirus to become increasingly deadly and expects that the U.S. could see between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths from the illness.
According to Johns Hopkins’ coronavirus case tracking map, the U.S. has recorded more than 189,000 coronavirus cases, with more than 4,000 fatalities as of Wednesday morning. Russia has recorded just 2,777 coronavirus cases and 24 fatalities.
The Russian aid flight comes even as the U.S. and Russia have had tensions, especially in recent years over indications of Russian meddling in the U.S. 2016 elections. U.S. fighter jets also recently intercepted Russian spy planes loitering near U.S. submarine training sites in the Arctic Ocean.