September 19, 2020

Coronavirus: What does ‘from Russia with love’ really mean?

Russia’s latest gesture in the coronavirus crisis came in the form of medical supplies arriving in New York – part of an operation dubbed “from Russia with love” by the Kremlin.

In late March a similar cargo was flown to Italy – the worst-hit country in the crisis – along with 100 Russian military medics.

Russian media speak of widespread gratitude for this generosity, but how much of that is fact, how much fiction?

Is Russia exploiting this crisis?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that the US had paid for the Russian supplies, and that “we have to work together to defeat #COVID19”.

The US says the delivery was agreed in a phone conversation between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin a few days ago.

The Russian foreign ministry says the US paid for half of the supplies, and the other half was donated by Russia.

But Russian TV channels call the cargo “aid” and make no reference to payment.

A report by Gazprom Media’s NTV described how excited JFK airport staff filmed the Russian plane, took selfies next to it and thanked the pilots and President Putin.

New York is a coronavirus hotspot and the US death toll has risen above 5,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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