The Stuck Convoy: Is it the End of the “Viral Diplomacy”?

During the first days of May a laconic message appeared on most Internet portals saying that the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina refused to allow a group of Russian military doctors enter its country. According…

During the first days of May a laconic message appeared on most Internet portals saying that the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina refused to allow a group of Russian military doctors enter its country. According to the message published by the Ministry of Security, a convoy with 24 specialists and five special-use cars were going to make disinfection against coronavirus in one Mostar city clinics. As we can see from the mentioned information, Dragan Chovich, Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nations Chamber invited Russian military doctors to come to the country.
Despite this invitation, the helpers did not appear in Mostar, because the frontier officers have not received a command to allow them to the territory of the country. What happened that envoys of Moscow, who offered as if unselfish assistance, who have dragged a convoy with fanfares in Italy that was suffering from pandemic and who were travelling to Serbia by planes of military transport and event sent equipment to the USA for fighting the virus, have become undesirable guests in a small Balkan state? Did this happen just because of violation of requirements of laws and procedural problems (as it is being stated in the official report of the Ministry of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina) or did this story have more serious reasons? Maybe this failed visit of ‘rescuers’ has become the first example that the world does not want ‘gifts’ of the Kremlin anymore? Especially, since we could get convinced during the last month that these were not the gits at all.       
However, first let’s go deeper into the official version of the event given by Sarajevo. According to the mentioned report, on 30 April the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina familiarized the Security Agency with the note of the Russian Embassy, which asked to allow a convoy with humanitarian aid enter the country. After receipt of this note, Fahrudin   , Minister of Security, discussed it with Sifet Pozdic, Minister of Defence. Then the Ministry of Defence produced the conclusion to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where it was emphasized that only the Presidium (the highest authority that is made of representatives from three countries) has the authority to allow the military establishment of a foreign country enter the territory. This was the end of the talks about the mission of Russian military doctors.  
However, it started with high-sounding statements, as usually. On the second half of April Russian state news agency announced based on the sources of the Ministry of Defence that the humanitarian aid would arrive in Bosnia and Herzegovina in three military transport aircrafts Il-76 under the instruction of the President Vladimir Putin – the same aircrafts had landed before in the military force air base in Pratica di Mare near Rome in Italy, from which caravans of trucks moved to a demonstrative trip towards the north of the country. Talking about Bosnia and Herzegovina, the publications that appeared on Russian internet portals were writing that ‘rescuers’ were rushing to this country under the invitation of the government of its region – Serb Republic (do not confuse with Serbia). Here they also indicate that in the official website of the government of this region they thank for the medical equipment that will be delivered to Banja Lukos airport.         
Now we can see that they hurried too much to announce such news. Probably, after previous ‘humanitarian missions’ they expected that this time everything would go smoothly, too. However, this did not happen and Moscow simply had to cope with it – after a week or so after this confusion, there were no notifications from Moscow. Could it just appear when the previous ‘unselfish’ help of Russia to other countries for fighting the coronarivus revealed its actual goals?
Here we should remind of the beginning of April when Russia sent medical equipment and personal protective equipment to the USA. Moscow presented all this as a free aid, which as if was asked by the President Donald Trump when he was talking on the phone with leader of Russia Vladimir Putin. After U.S. President thanked Russia for the aid, he heard a sharp criticism that he is helping the Kremlin to realize its propaganda campaigns.
Anyway, on 1 April Russia sent 45 artificial lung ventilators, 4 thousands of gas masks and 15 thousand respirators to the USA by a special flight. The shipment also included hand disinfectants, surgical gloves and special protective clothing for medical staff. The US TV channel then announced that all consignment was handed to the states of New York and New Jersey. However, journalists did not get the answer to the question whether the aid of Russia was used in the hospitals located there.  
Probably it was not very convenient to answer this question to administration of both states. According to other statements of sources, majority of the received equipment turned out to be totally useless. Firstly, artificial lung ventilators are designated for 220 Volt voltage, meanwhile the voltage in most power supply lines is twice as low, thus this equipment should be remade. Secondly, the military gas masks M-95 are designated for protection of chemical and biological attacks, they cover all face, thus they are not suitable for doctors to work with patients.
Moreover, among artificial lug ventilators sent by Russia there was the equipment that was made in the Ural machine building plant. This plant belongs to the concern Radio-Electronic Technologies that the United States has imposed the strictest sanctions since 2014. This means that acceptance of such an aid compromises solutions of the Executive Office of the US President. In order such a deal comes to life, a special permission of the Treasury Department of the US is required. 
Moreover, for the junk that is not necessary to the USA, Moscow produced an invoice to the Treasury Department of US for 660 thousand US dollars. Some commentators of the social networks speculated that V. Putin was expecting a different remuneration for this ‘humanitarian’ aid, let’s say, mitigation of sanctions against Russia. After he failed to get them, he got angry and asked for money. On the other hand, when the shipment reached the United States and the President quietly thanked for the aid, explanation of the State Department of the US appeared that all this equipment was not the charity but just a purchase. If this is true, the lie of Moscow about unselfish aid seems totally ridiculous, since the fat is in the fire was inevitable. In any event, an unsuccessful propaganda campaign of the Kremlin failed.
Finally, even the first so widely spread (and also not suitable to anybody) ‘humanitarian aid’ to Italy Moscow also tried to make into a deal and now this is becoming obvious. Almost at the same time when the last convoy of Russian military doctors got stuck on the way to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Italian portal of investigative journalism announced about a letter that was sent to Vit Petroceli, Chairman of the Committee of the Foreign Affairs of the Senate by his colleague Leonid Slucki from the State Duma of Russia. In this letter Senator of Russia reminded of the aid of Moscow to Italy in fighting the coronavirus and asked to push leaders of Brussels so they lifted sanctions against Russia after its aggression against Ukraine.
‘Western countries that call themselves democratic, introduced various sanctions against almost one third of inhabitants of the world and do not plan to lift them even during the coronavirus. I adders all politicians by encouraging them to refuse the policy of destructive sanctions, L.Slucki wrote in his letter.   
We can see a desperate reaction in it to the fact that on 3 April the General Assembly of the UN refused to adopt a resolution offered by Russian and seven other countries in regards to lifting sanctions against some countries, including Russia as a result of fighting the coronavirus. Then the news agency Ria Novosti controlled by the Kremlin announced a statement very similar in its tone and style, which says that ‘a small group of sanction policy apologists (…) could not refuse its politicized approach and interests’. As we see, politics of Russia now attempts to appeal to separate ‘receivers’ of charity, first of all, to Rome. ‘Finally Moscow produced an invoice for the aid it sent to Italy (including military) for fighting the coronavirus’, Linkiesta noted.         
This attempt of Russia to look for intercessors in Rome would hardly produce some results. So far it has not produced.  Whereas the actual motives of Moscow benefaction within the last two months have become too obvious. Moscow failed to mitigate sanctions and oppose Western countries by ‘humanitarian aid’ and earn more respect from the international community. The door that was shut for ‘charity’ by Bosnia and Herzegovina might be a sign that the arsenal of ‘viral diplomacy’ of Russia has already been exhausted.  
Aras Lukšas

Voras Online
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Autorius: Voras Online