The Russian Ministry of Defense revealed on April 3, that the Russian army contributed in the construction of a field hospital in Italy’s Lombardy that suffers from a major outbreak of the Covid-19. This came two days after the French President Emmanuel Macron criticized the talk about the Russian and Chinese roles in helping Italy, amid absence of the European support, referring to some political agendas behind the humanitarian and medical support provided by the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry indicated that the hospital is expected to open soon, adding that “Russian and Italian medical teams are scheduled to start on Monday their joined work at the field hospital; they will be receiving and treating patients infected with Covis-19.”
“The hospital is ready to accommodate 142 patients, and will employ more than 200 Russian and Italian specialists,” the ministry added in a statement.
The ministry’s statement comes a week after the Russian Air Force sent 15 aircrafts loaded with medical supplies and some military epidemiologists and experts from the Russian Ministry of Defense to Italy, which sparked concern among many European countries, led by France, of the military expansion of the Russian army in the EU under the pretext of humanitarian mission.
Meanwhile, the Coronavirus continues to claiming more lives in Italy, where the grand cremation center in the Italian city of Milan announced closing its doors, as of Thursday April 2, explaining that this decision is taken due to the high number of bodies accumulated inside it, which exceeds its capacity.
The Milan City Council clarified that the waiting period for cremation in the “Crimatorio de Lambrati” center may reach 20 days, referring to the hygiene and public health problems that might occur because this period is too long.
Italy and Spain are considered as the epicenters of the EU due to the high rates of infections and deaths, compared with other EU countries. During the past 24 hours Italy recorded 760 new deaths of Covid-19, bringing the total death toll in the country to 13,915, more than half of them were registered in northern Italy, the economic center of the Italian peninsula.
Italy had criticized France and Germany for their failure in providing it with masks and other supplies to combat the virus, as Italian Foreign Minister Luigi de Mayo stated earlier that Italy is undergoing a health-economic emergency state caused by the Coronavirus, and awaits loyalty from its European partners.
French President Emmanuel Macron responded to the Italian statements by emphasizing that his country supports Italy in combatting the novel coronavirus, adding that “There is a lot of talk about Chinese or Russian aid, but why don’t we say that France and Germany have delivered 2 million masks and tens of thousands gowns to Italy?”
“It is not sufficient, but this is just a start,” Macron said, expressing concerns that Italy might say to its partner in the future: “Where have you been when we were at the front?” and pointing out that he doesn’t want a selfish and divided Europe.
Going back to the era before the emergence of the Coronavirus, some politicians and experts believed that the Cold War between the EU and Russia had been buried; the owners of this theory believe that Europe should create new relations with Russia and exploit the geographical connection and common security and business interests between them.
Other views, however, believe that the differences between the EU and Russia are so severe that the two sides are unable to avoid them, especially their competition to lead world.
By analyzing the move of the Russian army in supporting an EU country, we see that it carries many questions and fears as well as challenges for the Europeans as well as Russians.
The Russians want a foothold in Europe, strengthening their presence by exploiting a crisis that ravaged not only Europe but also the whole world, and taking advantage of the Europeans’ failure in supporting Italy, as the EU is experiencing a very bad time at economic and cooperative levels, where its present and future are fraught with risks.
Perhaps the Russian army’s first move and the Europeans’ response to it will be the axis of next events.