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Putin Flies Help to Virus-Stricken Italy, Exploiting EU Fumble
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.
With Italy’s economy collapsing and its hospitals buckling under an avalanche of new cases, the European Central Bank dramatically ramped up its bond-buying program last week and the European Union is considering unleashing its 410 billion-euro ($440 billion) bailout fund to help keep the country afloat. Yet the bloc has left itself vulnerable to a PR coup from Russia and China in a critical member state.
That opened the door for Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. The Russian supplies were dispatched bearing a sticker with a heart and the words “From Russia with Love,” news wire Ansa reported.

“This is all about perception,” said Nathalie Tocci, director of the Italian Institute of International Affairs in Rome. “This medical help from Russia is nothing compared to the 750 billion euros of assets the ECB is going to buy. But it’s very hard to convey the importance of that to the public.”


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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...ting-eu-fumble