A Russian air force An-124 cargo plane carrying medical supplies lands at New York's JFK Airport on Wednesday April 1.

A Russian air force An-124 cargo plane carrying medical supplies lands at New York's JFK Airport on Wednesday April 1. Eric Dunetz @SouthpawCapture

Russian Cargo Plane With Medical Supplies Lands in New York

Moscow seized the opportunity to promote its fulfillment of a U.S. purchase order.

A Russian Air Force cargo plane reportedly carrying medical supplies for coronavirus patients landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport just after 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Moscow seized the chance to publicize the rare instance of a Russian plane bringing humanitarian aid — ordered by the U.S. government — to a U.S. airport, flooding social media with pictures and video shortly after the plane’s arrival. State media even had a live video feed of forklifts carrying brown boxes off the plane.

“A propaganda bonanza as our own government shrinks from America’s leadership role in a global crisis,” Brett McGurk, former special envoy for the U.S. fight against ISIS, tweeted.

The plane flew from Moscow to JFK, with stops in Ireland and Canada.

Russian state media said the plane was carrying “60 tons of medical equipment, ventilators, masks & other protection gear.” The shipment to New York — the state with the most coronavirus cases — followed a Monday call between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in which "the United States has agreed to purchase needed medical supplies, including ventilators and personal protection equipment, from Russia," the U.S. State Department said in a statement issued Wednesday evening.

“We sincerely thank you for all of the assistance you're bringing in," a New York air traffic controller said shortly before the plane, an Antonov An-124 landed. “You’re welcome and thanks,” the pilot responded. 

Russia has also sent aid to Italy, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus.

Typically, the only Russian military planes that fly into U.S. airspace are reconnaissance missions, which are allowed by the Open Skies Treaty. American military planes can fly similar missions over Russia. The Trump administration is considering withdrawing from the pact.

Russian military aircraft occasionally land at JFK when Putin or other top leaders fly into New York for meetings at the United Nations.

American and Canadian fighter jets intercepted Russian Tu-142 aircraft — submarine-hunting versions of the Soviet-era Bear bombers — off the coast of Alaska twice last month.