“The Russians are coming”, a phrase allegedly uttered by US Secretary of Defense James Forrestal while suffering from mental illness in 1949, is still in use today by certain media outlets (at the behest of, as conspiracy theorists would say, American and British intelligence agencies). And recently, this “prophecy” has indeed come to pass. The author believes that demand for underground bunkers has risen in the UK and the United States among some powerful people because they do not believe that either NATO or their nations’ medical or socio-economic systems could protect them from Covid-19 and threats posed by Russians and other countries, individuals or organizations.
And now, Russian Air Force’s 15th Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft from its military transport division landed in Italy on 25 March! All of these planes were not carrying either bombs or nuclear weapons but instead very special cargo to fight the Coronavirus outbreak: teams of Russian virologists, diagnostic equipment and means of disinfection. For several days now, the Russian Air Force has continued with its urgent mission to transport approximately 100 expert virologists from the Russian military, dedicated equipment and materials, including 600 ventilators, to Italy’s Pratica di Mare Air Base (situated 30 km west of Rome) in order to help this southern European nation with its battle against the Coronavirus. The aid comes after President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin and Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte reached an agreement on the issue on 21 March 2020.
The Russian medical teams will, as a priority, assist in treatment of patients in 65 nursing homes in Bergamo, which are being converted by local authorities into facilities for quarantining and providing aid to the elderly infected with the Coronavirus. A convoy comprising 22 Russian specialized vehicles; buses carrying military experts from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation; and accompanying automobiles provided by the Italian side travelled 600 km from Italy’s Pratica di Mare Air Base to the city of Bergamo in the north of Italy. A group of purpose built vehicles with military specialists from Russia’s Defense Ministry has already reached the Orio al Serio International Airport near the city of Bergamo where the joint Italy–Russia headquarters in charge of assisting with the Coronavirus outbreak is to be located. The city of Bergamo (in the Lombardy region) is one of the “epicenters” of the coronavirus pandemic with high numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases and Covid-19 related deaths.
There were a number of positive reports about the arrival of the Russian convoy and experts on Italian television. To the disappointment of some westerners who feel threatened by Russia, the broadcasts were not about aggressive Russians “scorching the earth” but instead about the assistance being provided by Russia to Italy, a country facing an unprecedented crisis in its modern history. The humanitarian aid provided by the Russian military was the ultimate example for all to see of the “Russian threat” and “Kremlin’s handiwork”.
Unfortunately, during this difficult time for Italy, its EU “ally” Poland decided to obstruct the urgent operation and continue with its Russophobic policies by not allowing Russian Air Force’s planes, carrying experts and equipment to help combat the coronavirus pandemic in Italy, to pass through its airspace. As a result, the aircraft were forced to make a detour over a number of other countries that added an extra 1,000 km to their journey. This ought to weigh on the conscience of Poland and EU’s leadership who only make a show of “European solidarity” for the public.
Another form of military transport, the Dvinitsa-50 vessel belonging to the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy, also carrying medical equipment is on route to Tartus, a port city in Syria where Russia’s naval facility is located.
In the near future, similar forms of assistance provided to Italy to combat the Coronavirus pandemic may be granted by Russia to Algeria. This issue was in fact discussed by Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov and his Algerian counterpart Sabri Boukadoum over the phone on 25 March.
Considering the severity of the Coronavirus related crisis and the number of infections in the United States, Anatoly Antonov, the Ambassador of Russia to the United States, stated that the Russian Federation was prepared to help Americans in their battle against Covid-19 on 24 March. “Ordinary Americans should know that Russia will be ready to help the United States too, if necessary,” he said also noting that Russia had had “repeatedly offered assistance in extinguishing fires in California”. The Ambassador added that the Coronavirus pandemic was a global threat requiring joint efforts to fight it.
“I think we should turn to Russia for help,” stated Vadim Rabinovich, a member of the unicameral parliament of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada), referring to the fight against the Coronavirus on TV channel NEWSONE. He added that Ukraine needed to stop hoping its “strategic partners” would come to its aid and realize that the nation was left “face to face with misfortune”, hence it was important to seek assistance from those capable of providing it. “As for us, only communist China helps us,” Vadim Rabinovich also said. “I think we should turn to Russia for help. There is nothing shameful here: when it touches upon people’s lives, this must be done,” he pointed out.
Hence, “the Russians are in fact coming” but their arrival is not greeted with fear as anticipated by western puppeteers who had coined this phrase.
Vladimir Odintsov, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine ‘New Eastern Outlook’.