MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. A company registered in the UK is behind the article published in Italy’s La Stampa daily claiming that Russian humanitarian aid to Italy is useless in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on Thursday.
"They have published another fake article with the aim to distort Russia’s actions in relation to the sanitary-epidemiological crisis in Italy. Citing questionable sources, if those sources existed at all, the outlet declared that Russia’s cargo was allegedly scarce, providing false information," she said. "We have managed to trace the intermediary — a company registered in London <…>, whose representatives refused to provide any information about this deal mentioned in the article or to answer any questions regarding the location, price and nature of the cargo, as well as its sender and recipient," the diplomat informed.
"When we began to study it, it turned out that this is a purely commercial operation that some foreign structures attempted to stage using non-transparent methods," Zakharova stated. "Russian officials have not been informed of this deal, they had nothing to do with it. And the newspaper presents it as Russia’s humanitarian efforts."
Zakharova stressed that separate dealers are trying to use Italy’s tragedy for their own benefit.
On March 27, the Russian Embassy in Italy sent a note of protest to La Stampa in relation to its publications claiming that 80% of Russia’s humanitarian aid is useless.
Under the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on March 22-25, the Russian Defense Ministry sent 15 military jets to Italy that transported virologists, epidemiologists and the necessary equipment to the country. According to the ministry, the group includes specialists who directly took part in fighting outbreaks of African swine fever, as well as developing vaccines against Ebola and the plague. The planes also delivered mobile stations for aerosol disinfection of transport and territories and medical equipment.
Russian military experts have been stationed in the town of Bergamo (Lombardy), one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy with a record number of infections and deaths in the country.
The number of people infected with the novel coronavirus in Italy has surpassed 110,000 since the start of the epidemic, with over 13,000 people dead.