Russia will accept ventilators from United States if needed: Kremlin

FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist wearing protective gear pushes a stretcher while relocating a non-transparent bag, which presumably contains a human body, in a hospital for patients infected with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Moscow, Russia April 12, 2020. REUTERS/Tatyana Makeyeva

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia would accept a “kind offer” by U.S. President Donald Trump to ship ventilators to the country if it felt it needed them to treat people sick with the novel coronavirus, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

Russia, which has so far recorded 27,938 cases and 232 coronavirus-related deaths, shipped ventilators and protective gear this month to the United States after a phone call between Trump and President Vladimir Putin.

Trump told Putin in a recent phone call that the United States could reciprocate as it begins to produce more ventilators, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.

“If necessary Russia would of course take advantage of this kind offer,” Peskov said.

He did not say whether Moscow would pay for the potential ventilator shipments from the United States nor whether Russia needed them.

The Kremlin initially described Russia’s shipment of ventilators and medical equipment to the United States as humanitarian aid, while the Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow had paid for half of it.

Those assertions were later countered by a Trump administration official who said that Washington had picked up the whole tab.

Ventilators are in high demand globally as governments rush to purchase them in large quantities to tackle the coronavirus crisis, and manufacturers say they cannot immediately supply everyone.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Gareth Jones