Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday defended ally China over demands in the West that Beijing should pay reparations for the coronavirus pandemic.
“Such demands are completely unacceptable, my hair stands on end when I hear something like this,” Lavrov told newsmen via a video conference.
U.S. President Donald Trump has described the novel coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and has threatened to withdraw funding from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which he has called “China-centric.”
Media reports have cited some U.S. and British officials as having raised the idea of demanding reparations from China.
Lavrov, Russia’s top diplomat, warned against using the crisis for political purposes, saying countries should work together for the common good.
“It’s a calamity that affects everyone, and we can only fight it together,’’ Lavrov said.
Lavrov defended the WHO’s response to the pandemic as “effective,” saying the organisation has undertaken sufficient efforts to combat the pandemic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meanwhile said in a video conference with heads of state of fellow former Soviet countries that there should be stronger cooperation amid the crisis.
Russia is ready to help other countries in need, Putin said.
The Russian military has supported Italy and Serbia with medical staff, technology and protective equipment, as well as disinfectants.
Russia has the highest recorded number of coronavirus cases among the former Soviet countries, with a sharp rise in the past two weeks to surpass 21,000.
No fewer than 170 people have succumbed to the disease in Russia, a relatively low statistic for a large European country amid the pandemic, as most of Russia is under lockdown. (dpa/NAN)