Reporters hounded President Trump during yesterday's White House press conference about a Monday phone conversation between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, where the two leaders agreed to hold talks about the chaos in the oil market. And in a gesture of goodwill, Russia - which has only recently started to report large numbers of COVID-19 cases - is sending a military transport plane full of "medical equipment and masks" to aid American governors like Andrew Cuomo in their time of need.
Putin offered to send the aid during Monday's call, while the two leaders discussed how best to respond to the virus, according to Reuters.
Trump's decision top accept the aid, which was organized by the Russian defense ministry, is likely to be unpopular with the president's critics who seemingly jump on any sign of warming relations between Trump and Putin, and argue that Moscow uses these shipments as a "propaganda tool". Some critics even went so far as to speculate that it might be a "spy operation."
Still, the equipment could help save American lives. Trump announced the "very, very large planeload" of supplies before it was officially confirmed by Moscow.
"Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday according to Russia's Interfax news wire. Trump enthusiastically touted the aid after the call. Russia had agreed to help because the pandemic "affects everyone without exception and is of a global nature."
Russia’s Rossiya 24 channel aired footage of the plane taking off from a military air base outside Moscow on Wednesday morning, its cargo hold was filled with cardboard boxes and other packages (footage courtesy of RT).
Last week, Moscow also sent some 600 ventilators, as well as masks and teams of medical experts, to Italy, which is struggling with the highest death toll from the virus in the world.