The comments to CNBC by Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, come after current and former U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News last week the country’s intelligence community was examining whether the coronavirus emerged accidentally from a Chinese lab.
″This issue was never discussed by our two presidents,” Peskov said Tuesday, when asked if Putin had discussed the matter with his U.S. counterpart. “We don’t think this issue of an investigation into the source of this virus is something that we can somehow support, so we don’t think this is a proper thing to try to investigate and to blame any nation in the world for this virus without having any evidence actually.”
It comes as Russia, an ally of China but friend too of U.S. President Donald Trump, tries to stay neutral amid the coronavirus pandemic that has strained U.S.-China relations — already at a low ebb after the drawn-out trade war —further.
Trump has attracted criticism for last month blaming China for the pandemic, and calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus.” He has also fallen out dramatically with the World Health Organization (WHO) over its treatment of China, accusing the UN’s health agency of being “China-centric.” He has also halted U.S. funding for the organization.
Russia is itself experiencing a rapid acceleration in the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases. On Thursday, it recorded 4,774 new infections, bringing the total number of cases to 62,773, with 555 people reported to have died.