Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed at a Group of 20 (G20) video conference that a freeze be placed on economic sanctions to allow countries to better combat the coronavirus pandemic that has infected more than 500,000 worldwide and killed nearly 23,000 people.
Putin told leaders of the 20 most industrialized nations on March 26 that restrictive measures imposed on countries should be lifted on humanitarian grounds to “facilitate mutual deliveries of drugs, food, equipment, and technology.”
Russia is under numerous rounds of sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States, and other countries over its actions in Ukraine.
It has also denounced crippling economic sanctions against Iran that the United States has reimposed since Washington in 2018 withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.
Without naming a specific country, Putin said that a moratorium should be enacted on “restrictions placed on essential goods as well as financial transactions to purchase them.”
"It is a question of whether people will live or die, a purely humanitarian issue," he said.
There have been increased calls for Washington to suspend sanctions against Iran, one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic.
The United States has offered to help Iran in its fight against the virus, which has infected 29,406 people in the country and killed 2,234 of them, according to a tally on March 26 compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the United States.
However, Washington has shown no desire to ease its sanctions and its policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran.
Iranian officials have dismissed Washington's humanitarian offer as dishonest and called instead for the lifting of the sanctions.
"Does the U.S. want a 'forever pandemic?’ Moral imperative to stop observing the bully's sanctions," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on March 26.
Russia has reported 840 confirmed coronavirus cases and three deaths attributed to it, according to Johns Hopkins University.