A Russian military plane carrying protective gear and fans landed in New York on Wednesday. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow paid half the cost, the other half being borne by Washington.
Critics of President Vladimir Putin said the delivery was a publicity stunt that has squandered precious medical resources that Russian regions lack.
“Russia has actually sold masks and medical supplies to the United States when doctors and nurses across the country find themselves without masks and infecting each other,” wrote an opposition politician. , Alexei Navalny, on Twitter.
“It’s monstrous. Putin is crazy. “
The Kremlin presented this decision as a gesture of goodwill at a time when it said that all nations must unite to fight the coronavirus and said it hoped that Russia would be able to access the American medical equipment in the future if necessary.
“There are always critics like that,” said the Interfax news agency quoting Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov.
To date, Russia has registered 3,548 coronavirus infections in 76 of its 80 regions. Thirty people have died across the country, officials said.
The Health Ministry said on Wednesday that it was pleased with the willingness of Russian regions to fight the virus. But some say they are experiencing the most basic equipment shortages.
Doctors at a Moscow region hospital told Novaya Gazeta they were asked to sew their own masks, while state television in Bachkortorstan, an area about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away ) east of Moscow, last month showed viewers how to make their own masks because pharmacies were exhausted.
The Alliance of Doctors, a union of medical workers who often criticizes the authorities, said it had collected money across Russia to buy protective equipment for doctors and was sorry to see the country shipping now the same equipment in the United States.
“It’s just making fun of everything,” the union wrote on Twitter.
Another Russian Twitter user pointed out that although fans landed in New York, similar expeditions did not reach Russian cities in need such as Saratov and Voronezh.
The Russian health ministry said on Thursday that the country has enough ventilators to meet its current needs and that hospitals will receive 8,000 more by the end of May.
The delivery from Russia also angered some people in the United States. Former US diplomat Brett McGurk was among those who criticized President Donald Trump for serving what he called “a propaganda boon” to Putin.
Moscow has also made several flights carrying medical supplies to Italy, which has killed more than 13,000 people. Several European Union and NATO officials have called aid geopolitical to expand Russian influence in Europe.
Report by Andrew Osborn and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; edited by Philippa Fletcher
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