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Embassy files protest regarding Italian newspaper articles on Russian coronavirus aid

The newspaper claims that some 80% of Russia's humanitarian assistance is useless

ROME, March 27. /TASS/. The Russian Embassy in Italy called La Stampa newspaper articles on Russian aid, sent to Italy to fight the coronavirus epidemic, incorrect and misinforming, says Russian Ambassador Sergei Razov in his statement addressed to the newspaper’s editor-in-chief and published in the newspaper’s online edition Friday.

"We noted two articles from March 25 and 26, signed by Jacobo Iacoboni, regarding Russian coronavirus aid to Italy. In this regard, we would like to express a number of comments and considerations," the Ambassador said. "Citing information from ‘high-level political sources,’ the journalist claims that 80% of Russian aid is allegedly useless and unneeded. We, of course, do not know what sources that author cites, and refer primarily to well-known and published statements of Italian officials. In particular, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conti thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for timely and large-scale aid, provided in a difficult situation, during a March 21 phone call. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio found it possible to arrive at the Pratica di Mare air base personally to meet the planes with Russian specialists, vehicles and equipment, expressing his gratitude to the Russian Federation."

"The journalist should have refrained from disorienting the respected readers regarding the true reaction of the high-level Italian officials to Russian actions," Razov said.

"As for usefulness or uselessness of the Russian aid, we believe it would be appropriate to ask residents of Bergamo, where our specialists and vehicles commence their work," he continued. "It is known that [Bergamo] is one of the most infected cities in northern Italy, where 1,267 people have died already, and 7,027 remain infected. By plea of our Italian colleagues, our epidemiologists, virologists and intensivists begin their work at the packed nursing homes, where a critical situation has emerged, due to shortage of medics and need for decontamination of buildings and vehicles. The author of these articles should have understood that Russian servicemen, as well as their Italian colleagues, will risk their health, and maybe even lives, by working at the designated area."

"Iacoboni sees some devious Russian plan in sending servicemen of the Russian Army, including the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection (NCB) troops. To inform the author and the respected readers, we state that NCB troops are the most mobile, experienced specialists, with experience from various regions of the world, who can effectively assist in diagnosis and treatment of the patients and in implementing the required decontamination measures," the diplomat explained.

"As for the message, clearly visible in the author’s speculations, that dispatching of the Russian military (free of charge, by the way) aims to somehow harm Italy’s relation with NATO partners, we suggest that the readers judge for themselves regarding who and how helps the Italian people during the ordeal. There is a saying in Russia: ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’," the statement reads.

Russian aid

During a Saturday phone call, Putin and Conti agreed that Russia would provide the required coronavirus aid to Italy. Between March 22 and March 25, 15 planes arrived in Italy, delivering some 100 military virologists and epidemiologists and eight medical brigades, as well as diagnosis and decontamination equipment. On Wednesday, Russian military specialists arrived in Bergamo, where they will assist with fighting the coronavirus.

Over 80,000 people contracted the infection in Italy; 8,000 of them died, while 10,000 recovered.