Hospitals throughout the US are facing a chronic shortage of ventilators as they struggle to cope with the number of seriously ill patients. US governors have made desperate pleas to the Trump administration to provide them with more of the lifesaving machines. Last Wednesday, the US received a shipment of medical supplies from Vladimir Putin, which included ventilators for New York, one of the epicentres of the COVID-19 crisis.
Photographs of the boxes containing the breathing apparatuses showed them to be identified as a model known as “Aventa-M”.
This type of ventilator is manufactured by a subsidiary of the Russian state defence and technology giant Rostec.
Rostec was placed on to the US sanctions list in 2014, after Putin invaded the Crimea and helped fund pro-Moscow militias in eastern Ukraine.
This means that US companies and individuals are prohibited from doing any kinds of business with Rostec and its subsidiaries.
DONALD TRUMP was forced to break his own government’s sanctions against Russia
US critics have described the deal as a stunning PR triumph for Putin
The delivery was arranged after a phone call between the US and Russian presidents on Monday last week.
The Kremlin described the delivery as humanitarian aid, a claim disputed by the State Department, which said it had paid for the supplies.
In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Russian press that the cargo’s cost had been paid jointly by the US and the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
She added that if the US did not want the ventilators, then Russia would gladly take them back.
US governors have made desperate pleas to the Trump administration
The US State Department denied that President Trump had breached US sanctions against Russia in procuring the medical supplies.
An official told NBC News on Friday that sanctions did not apply to medical equipment and products in general.
The representative said: “The Russian Direct Investment Fund is subject to certain debt and equity-related sectoral sanctions, which would not apply to transactions for the provision of medical equipment and supplies.”
US critics have described the deal as a stunning PR triumph for Putin, while opposition movements in Russia questioned why Russia was exporting vital medical supplies, when its own hospitals were ill equipped to deal with the coronavirus emergency.
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The US State Department denied that President Trump had breached US sanctions
The Kremlin described the delivery as humanitarian aid
The independent union representing medical workers in Russia, the Doctors Alliance, tweeted: “Well, great. We have been collecting donations to buy our medical personnel protective gear, and our authorities sell personal protective equipment to the US.
“It is simply a farce.”
It comes as the US surgeon general warned American citizens that the coming week will be “our Pearl Harbor” moment, as the number of people dying from the coronavirus pandemic is expected to surge.
The US has currently the highest number of reported COVID-19 cases, with over 300,000 of its citizens infected with the lethal virus.
Almost 10,000 have lost their lives since the beginning of the outbreak, as the number of fatalities fast approach those of Spain, the second worst affected country in the world.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Dr Jerome M Adams told the programme’s host: “The next week is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment. It’s going to be our 9/11 moment.
US states are desperate for ventilators
“It’s going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives.”
Dr Adams’ grim prediction was echoed by the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who told the nation to brace themselves for a very rough ride.
Dr Anthony Fauci told CBS’s Face the Nation: “This is going to be a bad week. It’s going to be shocking to some, it certainly is really disturbing to see that, but that’s what’s going to happen before it turns around.”