Former Italian Prime Minister and former head of the European Commission Romano Prodi sees Russian aid to other states during the COVID-19 pandemic as a show of solidarity, he told TASS during a video conference for foreign reporters, commenting on the attempts to discredit Russian humanitarian aid to Italy.
"This shows solidarity between people. When I see a plane land on American television, when I see the Russian flag beside the American one, I say: "Thank God that solidarity remains at a time when tensions are fruitless," because in the past we created useless, I repeat, useless divisions in the world," Prodi said.
He noted that there is no political agenda behind Russian humanitarian aid to the US and Italy. "If we want to relate it to politics, then we will have different thoughts entirely: some want to lift anti-Russian sanctions, some want to strengthen sanctions, however, let’s not debate about aid. Aid is aid," the former PM noted.
Under the order of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on March 22-25, the Russian Defense Ministry sent 15 military jets to Italy that transported virologists, epidemiologists and the necessary equipment to the country. According to the ministry, the group includes specialists who directly took part in fighting outbreaks of African swine fever, as well as developing vaccines against Ebola and the plague. The planes also delivered mobile stations for aerosol disinfection of transport and territories and medical equipment.
Russian military experts have been stationed in the town of Bergamo (Lombardy), one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy with a record number of infections and deaths in the country.
Earlier, Italy’s La Stampa daily published a series of articles, in which several "high-ranking sources" expressed doubt regarding the transparency of the Russian mission, adding that 80% of the Russian humanitarian aid to Italy was "useless." The Russian Embassy in Italy sent a note of protest to the newspaper, while the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the publications as fake. For its part, La Stampa told TASS that the newspaper had followed the principle of multilateral coverage of the event, including its controversial aspects.