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Putin concerned about fight against coronavirus not approval rating — Kremlin

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov in an interview with CNBC rejected the allegation that Moscow’s move to provide medical aid to the US had been aimed at easing sanctions

MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not concerned about whether measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus will affect his approval rating because the fight against the disease is currently his top priority, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with CNBC.

"During his political career, Putin has never showed fear about losing his popularity... He still enjoys an overwhelming majority of support among the population, but this is the last thing he thinks about," he said.

"The first thing for him now is to fight the coronavirus and to save lives, to cure those who need treatment and then to revive the economy," Peskov emphasized.

Disproving politicization of medical aid

Dmitry Peskov in an interview with CNBC rejected the allegation that Moscow’s move to provide medical aid to the US had been aimed at easing sanctions.

According to Peskov, Putin "never raised the issue of sanctions" while talking to the US president.

"It’s not a proper time to think of advantages or expectations after you organize this kind of help. He’s against politicizing the aid," the Kremlin spokesman pointed out.

"In fact, when Putin heard that some states in the US faced a very, very tough situation with ventilators and other materials, his first decision was to send some help," Peskov said.

US Department of State Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement earlier that "as a follow-up to the March 30 phone call between President Trump and President Putin, the United States has agreed to purchase needed medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protection equipment, from Russia, which were handed over to FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] on April 1 in New York City."

Coronavirus pandemic

In late December 2019, Chinese officials 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. According to the latest statistics, over 2,500,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 177,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 696,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

To date, a total of 57,999 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 4,420 patients having recovered from the virus. Russia’s latest data indicates 513 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.