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The Quirinale Presidential Palace is lit up with the colours of the Italian flag as Italy continues to battle the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, March 30, 2020. Paolo Giandotti/Pool via REUTERS

Italy’s NATO and European Union allies were unable to help it combat the coronavirus epidemic and tries to discredit Russia accusing it of being guided by propaganda considerations when it sent its military medics to that country, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said on Saturday.

“A hostile wave emerged but we prefer to pay no attention to the propaganda and media fuss. We think that it happened because the Western nations, EU and the Atlantic bloc countries, regrettably, were unable to realize the allied potential, to demonstrate a consolidated spirit inside their organization,” he said in an interview with the Zvezda television channel commenting on media allegations about Russia’s indulging in propaganda when helping Italy.

He recalled that after Russia had sent its military specialists to help Italy a number of countries “resorted to unfair methods, such as political blackmailing and accusing [Russia] of espionage and using hybrid instruments.”

He stressed that the Russian defense ministry pays no attention to such fakes and continues to do its job.

On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agreed during a phone call that Russia would send aid required by Italy to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Between the evening of March 22 and the morning of March 25, Russia sent 15 jets, transporting around 100 Russian military virologists and defense ministry specialists in epidemiology, eight nursing brigades, and equipment for diagnostics and disinfection. The Russian specialists are working in Bergamo, Lombardy, one of the most affected cities.

The Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper said citing Russian Ambassador to Italy Sergei Razov that three more Italian regions had asked for Russia’s assistance in combating the coronavirus infection.