US aircraft carrying Russia fire aid land in Moscow
Three US aircraft carrying aid including water tanks and fire-protective clothing arrived in Moscow on Saturday to help Russia battle its worst ever wildfires.
Two US Air Force C-130 planes touched down at Vnukovo airport in the early hours of the morning, followed by a charter flight from California ordered by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, state television and the foreign ministry said.
"We will always remember this gesture, this arm that was extended towards to us at a very difficult time," the deputy head of the international department of the Russian emergencies ministry, Valery Shuikov, said at the airport.
Two additional C-130 flights were expected in the "next days", the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. Another charter is also expected in the coming week.
"We acknowledge and assess positively the approach of the American side," the ministry said. "Such steps fully correspond to the spirit of partner-like constructive relations between our countries," it added.
According to the US State Department, the total value of the support from Russia's former Cold War era foe is around 4.5 million dollars.
The delivery follows a promise by US President Barack Obama to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in a telephone call that Washington was sending firefighting equipment to help Russia.
The deliveries include water tanks, pumps, hand tools, fire-protective clothing, and medical kits. US personnel are not part of the aid.
The White House said in a statement that the United States was "responding to Russia's request for technical assistance in combating the fires.
"The American people stand with the people of Russia in this difficult time."
The State Department said: "We are taking action to support the heroic efforts of Russian firefighters and emergency responders as they seek to bring these fires under control."
© 2010 AFP