Russian military specialists are helping Serbia to disinfect medical facilities, as the Balkan state – a candidate for EU membership – battles coronavirus.

Russian military transport planes went on a similar mission to northern Italy last month. And another Russian plane took medical supplies to New York.

The Kremlin has dubbed its emergency aid “from Russia with love”. But critics suspect Russia of using the crisis to score some propaganda points, as we reported here.

Russia is historically a close ally of Serbia and it does not recognise Kosovo’s independence from Serbia.

But Russia’s crisis mission can also be seen as a challenge to the EU, which is preparing to let Serbia join the bloc.

Serbia has imposed a strict lockdown: its borders are closed and it has a curfew. Its official toll is 51 dead and 1,908 current Covid-19 cases.