Donald Trump announced on Thursday that his administration had reached a deal to send ventilators to Russia after a phone call with President Vladimir Putin, with critics noting that Trump made it much more difficult for states to request and obtain this needed medical device.
According to Reuters, Trump announced that he was sending ventilators to Russia to help its response to the coronavirus crisis, as he said the country was having a difficult time dealing with the disease. As Business Insider added, Trump had mentioned last month that he was considering sending the equipment to help Russia with its COVID-19 crisis, and he and Putin appeared to reach a deal during their phone call on Thursday.
While it was not immediately clear exactly what or how much the United States would be sending for aid, a readout of the call provided by the Kremlin said that Trump had proposed to send “a batch” of medical supplies to Russia.
As the Business Insider report pointed out, Trump had pushed back against requests from governors in the U.S. for ventilators, leading some state leaders to strike deals with foreign governments to procure the medical devices, which are used to treat critical COVID-19 patients.
At one point, Trump said that it was not the federal government’s job to distribute these to states in crisis.
“The Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk,” he said.
The president also pushed back at the size of requests from some states, saying they did not need the high amounts that had been requested. He also accused hospitals of hoarding ventilators that were above the amount needed to respond to patients.
Though many states have now passed the peak of infections and hospitalizations, some coronavirus models predict that the death toll will rise as some of them start to reopen.
Back in April, Trump made headlines after purchasing an order of ventilators from a Russian company currently under U.S. sanctions. The plane arrived in New York City on April 1, and the following day Trump was asked about whether he was worried it could provide propaganda fodder for the Kremlin.
“I am not concerned about Russian propaganda, not even a little bit,” he said, via Reuters
Russia had been criticized for initial suggestions that the coronavirus outbreak had not struck the country, reporting numbers of both total cases and deaths that were called into question by many in the international community.