Staunton, February 26 – Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that there is no shortage of vaccines in the Russian Federation, a statement he was compelled to make because many regional officials and medical experts are now saying Russia still isn’t producing enough of the medication for domestic needs, even though four million Russians have been vaccinated (regnum.ru/news/3201428.html, novayagazeta.ru/articles/2021/02/26/89394-evolyutsionnaya-situatsiya and regnum.ru/news/3201350.html).
The number of new cases and deaths from the pandemic as recorded by the Russian government continue to drift downward with only 1,086 new cases of infection and 428 new deaths being reported over the last 24 hours for the country as a whole, even though in some places the numbers are going in the opposite direction (t.me/COVID2019_official/2521 and regnum.ru/news/society/3195444.html).
Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz about the possible production of Russia’s Sputnik-5 vaccine in Austria (regnum.ru/news/3201732.html). Through Peskov, Putin indicated he is prepared to talk with the EU about the introduction of coronavirus vaccine passports (regnum.ru/news/3201404.html).
According to one Moscow commentator, Putin wants to force the EU to register for use all Russian vaccines even if the preliminary testing of them has not yet been completed (echo.msk.ru/blog/ganapolsky/2796904-echo/). The Financial Times reports Moscow is overcharging African countries for the vaccine (echo.msk.ru/news/2796492-echo.html).
Russian spokesman continue to attack Western vaccines as unsafe and say that the West is trying to undermine confidence in Russia’s vaccines, even though most people in the West now view Russia more positively because of its success with Sputnik-5 (regnum.ru/news/3201377.html, svpressa.ru/blogs/article/291054/ and svpressa.ru/blogs/article/290966/).
On the economic front, the debate over whether the pandemic or the Kremlin is to blame for Russia’s economic problems is intensifying (https://svpressa.ru/society/article/290976/), as a new poll shows that 79 percent of Russians feared losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic (novayagazeta.ru/news/2021/02/26/168179-issledovanie-koronavirus-rabota).