Medvedev: Russia could not let Japan down despite differences

Russian Emergencies Ministry rescuers on their arrival from Japan at Moscow’s Ramenskoye airport (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Fomichev)
President Dmitry Medvedev has said that even despite differences on some issues between Moscow and Tokyo, Russia’s task was to help the neighboring country after the deadly earthquake.

"Although, as you know, some things are not easy in our relations with our partners in Japan – sometimes our positions are close and sometimes we diverge, but in this situation, our task was to help our neighbors," the Medvedev said, citing Interfax. The president also recalled that the Japanese Prime Minister thanked Moscow for the assistance.

On Monday, Medvedev invited the Russian rescuers who worked in Japan for tea at the Kremlin. He thanked them for excellent work helping to search for survivors after the devastating quake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergey Shoigu, who was also present at the meeting, noted that the team of Russian rescuers was the largest foreign group to be working in the Asian country. All in all, 255 Russians arrived on the islands to provide aid. The Russian unit was also the last one to leave, among growing fears of increasing radiation level. Thanks to the rescuers’ efforts, 112 bodies were found in the debris.

President Medvedev stressed that the operation had “huge moral value”.

“Some asked questions as to the point of this mission, as it seemed there was no one to save and everyone died, but the important thing here was for the people to feel that they had not been abandoned; this operation possessed a serious moral meaning, which held great significance…for the emotional state of those who survived, so they could feel that they have a future,” the Russian leader stressed.