Russia sends plane full of medical gear to help US fight coronavirus

russia-planeBoxes with medical equipment and masks to help fight coronavirus are seen aboard a Russian military transport plane ahead of its departure for the US.Reuters

 

A Russian military transport plane loaded with medical equipment took off early Wednesday from an airfield outside Moscow and headed for the US, following a conversation between President Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, according to a report.

Putin offered supplies to help fight the coronavirus pandemic during a phone call with Trump on Monday, which focused on how to respond to the outbreak, Reuters reported.

“Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing the Interfax news agency.

The Russian Embassy said on its Twitter account that Moscow sent the aid as Trump predicted the death toll in the US could be between 100,000 and 240,000 and amid hopes that the Trump administration would return the favor if the outbreak becomes severe in Russia.

“Importantly, when offering assistance to the American colleagues, President Putin is guided by the following consideration: when manufacturers of medical equipment gain momentum they will be able to reciprocate if need be,” the tweet said.

Trump on Monday said he had talked to Putin and suggested Russia would be sending aid.

“I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries,” Trump said. “China sent us some stuff, which was terrific. Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice.”

Russia reported more than 2,000 cases of the virus, but many health experts have questioned the accuracy of the data.

 

U.S. now believes Russia is behind ‘sonic attack’ on 26 embassy personnel in Cuba

Diplomatic worker in China similarly afflicted in what are now believed to have been microwave, rather than sonic, attacks

Then–Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at a flag-raising ceremony marking the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Aug. 14, 2015.

Russia is believed to be behind the strange “sonic attacks” that have left U.S. diplomats with concussion-like injuries in Cuba and China, according to a report Tuesday.

Communications intercepts, known as “signals intelligence,” that point to Russia as the culprit have been collected as part of an ongoing investigation by the FBI, CIA and other agencies in the US, multiple sources reportedly told NBC News.

The evidence, though, isn’t conclusive enough to formally blame Moscow.

Twenty-six U.S. workers have been hurt in the attacks that occurred in their homes or hotel rooms beginning in 2016. Most reported hearing high-pitched sounds, leading investigators to suspect a sonic weapon.

The FBI later said sound waves alone couldn’t have caused the symptoms, which included brain injuries, hearing loss, cognitive problems, difficulty with balance and problems with vision and hearing.

A U.S. employee experienced similar symptoms following an attack earlier this summer in Guangzhou, China.

Now scientists are saying microwaves could be to blame, according to CNN.

The unexplained incidents have worsened relations between the Cuba and the U.S., which pulled out most of its diplomats from Havana and tossed 17 Cuban counterparts from Washington.

Cuba has denied any involvement, and officials there don’t believe a sonic device is to blame.

The incidents are also being probed by the State Department’s internal Accountability Review Board.

“The State Department has come to the determination that they were attacks,” the head of the board, retired Ambassador Peter Bodde, testified before Congress last week.

A source told NBC News that the U.S. has “no reason to believe this was anything but an intentional act.”

The Kremlin didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Last week, a top security official in the U.K. pointed the finger at Vladimir Putin for the deadly nerve-agent attacks that nearly killed a former Russian spy and his daughter in England.