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The U.S. Has Thrown Out Faulty Ventilators Russia Sent As Pandemic Aid

Topline

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has “disposed” of faulty ventilators donated by Russia that were manufactured by a company under U.S. sanctions as part of a lopsided exchange of medical supplies during the height of the pandemic.

Key Facts

In March, as coronavirus cases in the U.S. began to soar and states struggled with shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators, President Donald Trump reached out to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help, who said he would send a military transport plane filled with medical equipment to the U.S.

The plane landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport in April, and the equipment, including 45 ventilators, was distributed to hospitals in New York and New Jersey.

But the Aventa-M ventilators were never used – they required an electrical voltage not compatible in the U.S., which means they couldn’t be used in the hospitals without an adapter that wasn’t readily available, Buzzfeed News reported, and just a few weeks later, the same model ventilator burst into flames in Russia, killing six people.

The ventilators were “disposed” of, a FEMA spokesperson told Forbes.

The ventilators were manufactured by the Ural Instrument Engineering Plant, also known as KRET, which has been under U.S. sanctions since 2014.

In exchange for the April shipment, the U.S. sent $5.6 million in medical supplies to Russia over the following two months, including 200 ventilators – the shipment Russia sent the U.S. was worth around $1 million.

Key Background

The ventilator’s delivery was surrounded in a cloud of confusion. At first Russia said the shipment labeled “humanitarian aid” was “billed as free assistance,” but later Russia said it was charging the U.S. $660,000. The payment was scratched when the U.S. said it would reciprocate the gesture once its own manufacturing was up to speed. A few months later, the U.S sent $5.6 million in medical equipment to Moscow, with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow tweeting a video of a plane carrying some of the aid taxiing on the tarmac in Russia. Congressional Democrats railed against the lopsided trade, the fact that the donated ventilators came from a sanctioned company, and that the U.S. donated such a high number of ventilators to Russia when they could have been used in the United States.

Further Reading

FEMA Threw Out The Faulty Ventilators Russia Gave The US Without Ever Using Them (Buzzfeed News)

FACT CHECK: Is Russia Really Sending Medical Supplies To The United States? (NPR)

Russian plane with coronavirus medical gear lands in U.S. after Trump-Putin call (Reuters)

Source: Forbes – Business

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