Aleksey Pushkov, a Russian Senator and a former chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on International Affairs, said on March 23 that Poland had refused to let Russian IL-76 military aircraft carrying aid to coronovirus-hit Italy use its airspace.
“Poland did not let Russian aircraft carrying aid to Italy pass through its airspace. This is meanness at the level of public policy. Moreover, the help was for an ally of Poland in the EU and NATO. From now on, Russia should not meet Poland half-way, on any issue,” he wrote.
Il giro dell’aereo russo di aiuto per l’Italia. 9 paesi UE hanno proibito sorvolo. pic.twitter.com/AufdXelqDW
— maurizio gustinicchi (@gustinicchi) March 23, 2020
Pushkov was not the only who noted that Russian aircraft delivering medical aid to Poland flies to Italy via a long route. They were forced to make a detour, having to travel at least 3,000km more than if routed through Polish airspace.
Since March 22, the Russian Defense Ministry has sent at least 14 flights of IL-76 military transport aircraft with dozens pieces of medical equipment, and hundreds of medics and viral agent defense specialists to Italy. The Russian COVID-19 response team is now actively engaged in containing the outbreak in the country.