Diplomat says Italians grateful to Russia for helping hand in battling COVID-19 pandemic

Diplomat says Italians grateful to Russia for helping hand in battling COVID-19 pandemic

12:06 - Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the presence of Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio at the airfield to welcome the first planes of the Russian Aerospace Troops March 22 spoke volumes about the gratitude of Italy’s top authorities

The Italian people are grateful to Russia for its assistance in fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Thursday.

"Russia’s assistance to Italy in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus infection is humanitarian and it is in no way linked to a political agenda," the diplomat stressed.

She said the presence of Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio at the airfield to welcome the first planes of the Russian Aerospace Troops on March 22 spoke volumes about the gratitude of Italy’s top authorities to Russia for its assistance. "The Italians welcomed Russia’s assistance with great enthusiasm," she added, noting that the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russian missions abroad are receiving hundreds and thousands of messages of gratitude.

Russia’s assistance to Italy is solid and pragmatic. "Not only was humanitarian cargo sent, but also our civilian and military specialists are working there, and special-purpose hardware is being utilized as well," she explained. The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade is also sending aid, Zakharova pointed out. "These are examples of civilized humanitarian cooperation and mutual assistance, which is probably the best manifestation of what mankind has accumulated over all these years," she added.

Assistance to Italy
On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agreed during a phone call that Russia would send much-needed aid to Italy to fight the coronavirus pandemic. From the evening of March 22 to the morning of March 25, Russia sent 15 jets, transporting around 100 Russian military virologists and defense ministry specialists in epidemiology, eight nursing brigades, and equipment for diagnostics and disinfection. The Russian specialists arrived in Bergamo, one of the most affected cities, on Wednesday.

A hospital for coronavirus patients in Bergamo, in northern Italy’s Lombardy region, will be opened in early April and more than 200 Italian and Russian specialists will be working there, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

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