Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview on May 4 that Russia and China are using humanitarian assistance provided to Italy to advance their own interests.
“Russia provided medical assistance to Italy but then attempted to use that assistance to drive a wedge between Italy and its allies with a disinformation campaign,” Esper said.
According to researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) stories alleging that “the virus is a hoax, that it is man-made”, or that it is “a U.S.-made biological weapon” are examples of Russian disinformation.
“I have repeatedly called for Russia and China to be transparent with information during this crisis,” Esper said, adding that he recommended that “their donations to other countries be of quality and come without strings.”
The issue of exploiting the vulnerability of NATO allies due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, was also discussed during the recent NATO Defense Ministers meeting attended by Esper. The United States and NATO Allies will take steps “to ensure the health crisis does not turn into a security crisis,” Esper said.
US Provides Humanitarian Aid to Italy
Esper authorized the Department of Defense on April 20 to provide humanitarian support to Italy including transportation of medical equipment, fuel, or food, providing medical supplies, the involvement of U.S. military personnel in humanitarian operations conducted in Italy, remote clinical services provided to Italian medical facilities, and medical services to non-COVID-19 patients in Italian hospitals, according to a Defense Department statement.
President Donald Trump ordered his administration on April 10—at the request of the Italian Government—to provide COVID-19 relief to…