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Russia hopes for joint work with US in fight against pandemic, thanks China for its cargo

The diplomat recalled the US Department of State’s statement regarding the importance of joint efforts to fight against the coronavirus
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova Alexander Shcherbak/TASS
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova
© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. Moscow and Washington should exert joint efforts in the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova told TASS on Thursday.

"We’ve taken note of the US Department of State’s statement regarding the importance of joint efforts to fight against the coronavirus. In particular, it said that ‘both countries have provided humanitarian assistance to each other in times of crisis in the past and will no doubt do so again in the future. This is a time to work together to overcome a common enemy that threatens the lives of all of us.’ We fully share this kind of approach. Time is ripe to present a common front," Zakharova said.

As for Russia’s recent medical supplies to the United States, the sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and Washington split its cost, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman revealed to TASS.

The diplomat noted that cooperation between Moscow and Washington in preventing the spread of the coronavirus was carried out under an agreement hammered out by the two leaders in their phone conversation on March 30. "Under this agreement, the medical supplies were delivered to the United States by a military-transport aircraft of the Russian Defense Ministry. Half of the cargo’s cost was paid by the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and another half by the US side," Zakharova said, noting that RDIF played a crucial role in Russian-US business cooperation.

Now Russia has the opportunity to provide assistance in battling the common threat, Zakharova stressed. "In the hardest phase of China’s struggle against the coronavirus epidemic, Moscow was one of the first to help its Chinese friends. Now we are getting support from Beijing," the diplomat stated. "These days, the United States is refocusing its industry to producing the goods needed to contain the coronavirus pandemic. We are sure that, if necessary, they will subsequently be able to provide support to Russia."

The Antonov An-124 aircraft with Russia’s medical supplies landed at New York’s JFK Airport on Wednesday. The aid mostly consists of items of individual protection, which are now scarce in the US, especially in New York, Russia's First Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dmitry Polyansky said. According to Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov, since the whole world is facing the pandemic, the fight against the coronavirus requires joint efforts.

China's humanitarian cargo

Russia received humanitarian cargo from China on Wednesday, and it thanks China for this free of charge assistance in the fight against coronavirus, Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.

"We would like to convey words of gratitude to the Chinese side for dispatching humanitarian cargo to Russia. Yesterday, planes of the Russian Aerospace Forces airlifted medical goods to Moscow from Beijing offered by the Chinese government on a fee-free basis," the diplomat stressed.

Countries of the world are helping each other in tough circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, she said. "These days, all responsible participants in international relations realize a new threat and a new reality that necessitate pooling the resources, possibilities and efforts to get the global community out of the existing plight," the diplomat explained.

Russia has received 26 tonnes of humanitarian aid from China, the press service of the Industry and Trade Ministry reported earlier on Thursday.

"The cargo with a total weight of 26 tonnes includes medical masks, respirators, protective suits, disposable gloves, shoe covers and infrared thermometers," the report reads.

Russia also rendered humanitarian aid to China earlier, sending back on February 9 more than 23 tonnes of medicines and individual protective gear to Wuhan, the hardest hit by the novel coronavirus.

Coronavirus pandemic

In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China.

Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus — named COVID-19 by the WHO — have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia. On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. To date, more than 938,000 people have been infected worldwide and over 47,000 deaths have been reported. That said, over 195,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

So far, a total of 3,548 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 235 patients having recovered from the virus. The country’s latest data indicates 30 fatalities nationwide.