REUTERS

The Russian army on Sunday began flying medical help to Italy after receiving an order from President Vladimir Putin, a goodwill gesture that Moscow labelled "From Russia with Love," Reuters said.

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When asked if Russia expected Italy to return the favour by trying to get EU sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine lifted, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the notion as absurd.

"We're not talking about any conditions or calculations or hopes here," Peskov said. "Italy is really in need of much more wide scale help and what Russia does is manageable," he said.