Putin considers using the army to tackle virus crisis

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday Russia might need to call in the army to help tackle the coronavirus crisis and warned the contagion was getting worse. Russia reported 2,558 new cases on Monday, bringing the overall nationwide tally to 18,328, with 148 deaths. Though rising, the number of deaths remains much lower for now than countries such as the US and Italy.

Moscow, the worst-hit area, and several other regions have imposed a lockdown, ordering residents to stay at home except to buy food, seek urgent medical treatment, take out the rubbish, or go to work if absolutely necessary.

Putin told officials at a televised meeting held by video link to consider using the army to help tackle the crisis, noting how it had sent doctors and medical equipment to Italy and Serbia in recent weeks to help. A similar move to send medical aid to the United States angered the Kremlin’s critics, who cast it as a publicity stunt that squandered precious resources lacking in Russia’s own regions, though the Kremlin denied that and said Moscow could now expect help from the United States in the future.

“You need to use this experience, of course, and bear in mind that all these options, including the options of the defence ministry, if needed, can and should be involved here,” Putin said. He told officials that the resources displayed by the army were “only a fraction of what the defence ministry has” and that “the main reserves are still in reserve, so you need to keep this in mind”.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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