SARAJEVO, April 9 (Reuters) - Russia will on Thursday send three planes carrying medical experts and equipment to Bosnia’s autonomous Serb region to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus there, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik said.
Dodik, who represents the Serb Republic in Bosnia’s tri-partite presidency, said he had appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help some days ago when Banja Luka, the Serb Republic’s largest city, experienced a surge in coronavirus cases.
As of Thursday, Bosnia had reported 857 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, and 35 deaths. Of these, 356 cases and 13 deaths were in the Serb Republic.
The Russian Embassy confirmed in a brief statement the medical aid would arrive on special flights at the Banja Luka airport following an appeal for help from the Bosnian Serb leadership.
In a news conference aired on regional television, Dodik said the planes were bringing 25 doctors and nurses, as well as three special vehicles for the disinfection of public spaces.
“This is the most significant aid sent to us so far,” he said.
The Bosnian Serbs look to Moscow for support as they perceive Russia as their Orthodox ally. Russia has also sent aid to Serbia. Its medical aid delivery to the United States infuriated Kremlin critics who said it was a publicity stunt and pointed out that Russia was itself experiencing severe shortages.
Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky