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Putin Flies Help to Virus-Stricken Italy, Exploiting EU Fumble

  • Doctors, supplies sent after phone call with Premier Conte
  • Italy is fertile ground for Russian diplomatic offensive
Medical equipment are loaded onto a Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft to be sent to Italy on March 22.
Medical equipment are loaded onto a Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft to be sent to Italy on March 22.Source: Russian Defence Ministry/TASS via Getty Images

As soon as Vladimir Putin got off the phone with the desperate Italian prime minister, Russian aid was being loaded onto military planes, headed for the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

The consignment was given a high-profile reception by Giuseppe Conte’s government, with Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio there to see the reinforcements land at a military airport south of Rome on Sunday night. As well as protective masks and coats, ventilators, swabs and testing equipment, there were doctors and disinfection teams on board, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry.