Russia will receive 200 ventilators from the US after President Vladimir Putin asked for help from President Donald Trump, according to the US State Department.
The US will ship 200 ventilators to Russia this week as the country grapples with “a true public health crisis due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” the State Department told CNBC Tuesday.
Coronavirus cases in Russia reached 300,000 on Wednesday. It is now the country with the second-highest number of confirmed virus cases in the world. It follows the US, which now has more than 1.5 million cases, based on the compiled data from Johns Hopkins University.
“In response to President Putin’s request for assistance, President Trump offered to donate and deliver 200 ventilators to the Russian people. The first 50 ventilators are being produced by the manufacturer in the United States, and are expected to be ready for shipment May 20,” the spokesperson said.
Economic sanctions on Russia
According to US authorities, sending medical aid to Russia was part of several efforts it had taken to assist its international allies. US also wanted to improve US-Russia relations, which faced issues in recent years following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and alleged involvement in the US′ 2016 election. Both events attracted international condemnation and resulted in economic sanctions on Russia.
“The United States seeks a better relationship with Russia on many fronts and the door to dialogue remains open. We must all work together to overcome this common threat that knows no boundaries. The United States and Russia have provided humanitarian assistance to each other during past crises and will no doubt do so again in the future,” the spokesperson noted.
Russia’s call for medical assistance comes after it delivered what it called “humanitarian aid” to the US in early April as the coronavirus pandemic spread in New York.
Russia shipped a cargo of medical supplies, including ventilators, to the US. However, the move was bombarded with criticism and controversy. For critics, Russia’s aid is its way to weaken the US’ stance on economic sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile, US aid to Russia happens as its relationship with the World Health Organization, continues to fade.
Warning against WHO
On Tuesday, Trump said that the WHO should “clean up” its activities in relation to the coronavirus pandemic or the US won’t “be involved with them anymore.”
Trump warned the agency that the US may withhold its financial support permanently and gave it a 30-day deadline to enact changes.
“They missed the call. They could have called it months earlier,” Trump said during a White House press briefing. His statement suggests that the WHO did not completely warn the international community about the virus.
The State Dept. spokesperson said that the US is “the largest contributor to global public health and has committed over 15,000 ventilators to more than 50 countries, including our European Allies and partners.”
“Through the generosity of the American people and private industry innovation, the United States is providing critical medical supplies and ventilators to people in need around the world.”