Fact Check: Trump’s Tweet About Germany

Fraud (up 1.3 percent), computer fraud (a 2.8 percent increase) and drug offenses (9.2 percent higher) all rose, but the number of illegal border crossings dropped 79.9 percent.


Chancellor Angela Merkel with her coalition partners, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union, left, and Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party.

Markus Schreiber/Associated Press

Germans Are ‘Turning Against Their Leadership’


Migration is at the heart of the current political crisis in Germany — the country is struggling to absorb more than one million migrants — and threatens to tear apart the governing coalition led by Ms. Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union.

The issue has weakened Ms. Merkel and her party, contributing to an environment in which far-right groups have flourished. But there are no clear indicators that the German people as a whole have turned against the government.

It is true that the country’s mainstream parties — the Christian Democrats, the Social Democrats and the Christian Social Union — have lost votes since Ms. Merkel introduced her open-door policy in 2015. But, together, they still accounted for more than 53 percent of the vote in elections last September. And even as she has come under heavy criticism, Ms. Merkel remains the country’s most popular politician.

The reason for the political crisis is a split in Ms. Merkel’s coalition. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union, is facing elections in Bavaria against the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD.

Although the AfD’s level of support in polls is only about 15 percent, Mr. Seehofer wants to stem the party’s momentum and protect his flank on the political right.

Ahead of a state election in Bavaria in October, Mr. Seehofer is demanding that the government tighten its policy on accepting migrants who are arriving in Germany through another European Union country. Ms. Merkel has resisted, since the change would violate European Union law.


Refugees waited for breakfast at a camp for migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos in February.

Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Migration Has ‘Strongly and Violently’ Changed European Culture

Needs more context.

There’s little doubt the huge wave of migration that began to hit Europe in 2015 has placed enormous strains on European unity, with leaders and officials unable to come up with a practical and cohesive strategy to deal with the influx of a mostly Muslim migrant population.

The tensions have been visible in various forms around the Continent:

• Migration played a crucial role in the decision by British voters to withdraw from the European Union, commonly known as Brexit.

• The facilities used to house migrants arriving in Greece, a common landing point for many migrants, are often dangerous and decrepit.

• Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary is among the nationalist leaders who has used migrants as a foil to bolster his political position.

Most recently, Italy, which now includes a right-wing, anti-immigrant party as part of its governing coalition, refused to accept a boat carrying more than 600 migrants; it was eventually taken in by Spain.

And yet, for all of that, there is little to support Mr. Trump’s declaration that migration has “strongly and violently” changed European culture. It has certainly changed European politics, though.

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DealBook Briefing: Justice Dept. Hints at the Fate of the Fox Deal



Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Trump will play the G-7 on his terms

The president won’t attend all this weekend’s Group of 7 talks in Quebec — he’ll leave midmorning tomorrow, before sessions on clean energy and the climate. That sums up his approach to the summit, where other world leaders are likely to attack his aggressive trade policies.

Michael D. Shear of the NYT likens the weekend to a Thanksgiving from hell:

Mr. Trump is the black sheep of this family, the estranged sibling who decided to pick fights with his relatives just before arriving to dinner. The dispute, Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, acknowledges, is “much like a family quarrel.”

On the agenda: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will urge Europe to tackle President Trump’s policies more assertively, while Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain will counsel restraint. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada may do whatever it takes to salvage his image.

It’s unclear how — or if — any of that will affect America’s trade policies. But diplomatic tensions look set to rise, and economic uncertainty would rise with them.

Elsewhere in trade:

• Senate Republican leaders look set to quash Senator Bob Corker’s bid to rein in the president’s tariffs.

• An inside look at how Mr. Trump turned up the heat on trade with China.

• And the people who might make him turn it down again: Iowan soybean farmers.


Ng Han Guan/Associated Press

Did the White House strike a good deal over ZTE?

The Trump administration removed crippling penalties on the ailing Chinese telecom company in exchange for $1.4 billion in fines and other measures. But did some other big gain drive the deal?

Getting Beijing to approve Qualcomm’s takeover of another chip maker, NXP Semiconductors? Maybe. China’s latest trade concessions, which were linked to the Trump administration not imposing certain tariffs? Unlikely.

The answer might be simpler, according to the NYT. Killing ZTE would have left President Xi Jinping of China with a huge political problem, damaging the overall Washington-Beijing trade talks.

The reaction: Critics said the penalties weren’t tough enough. And lawmakers were predictably up in arms:


A bipartisan group of senators, including Mr. Rubio and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, introduced legislation to strictly limit ZTE’s operations.

The political flyaround

• The Justice Department said that it won’t defend key parts of the Affordable Care Act. (NYT)

• The I.M.F. has agreed to give Argentina a $50 billion financial lifeline as the country tries to reduce its fiscal deficits. (WSJ)

• Federal prosecutors seized years’ worth of an NYT reporter’s phone and email records as part of an investigation into classified information leaks by a Senate Intelligence Committee aide. (NYT)

• The E.P.A. has changed the way it calculates risks of chemicals — in a way that benefits the chemical industry. (NYT)


Charles Koch

Bo Rader/The Wichita Eagle, via Associated Press

Charles Koch may have forced his brother out

When David Koch announced on Tuesday that he was retiring from his family’s industrial conglomerate and political network, he cited his health as the reason. But according to The New Yorker, it was a move by his older brother, Charles, who has long been the dominant partner.

More from Jane Mayer:

A business associate who declined to be identified, in order not to jeopardize his ties to the family, told me, “Charles pushed David out. It was done with a wink, and a nod, and a nudge.”


Jonathan Bush, departing C.E.O. of Athenahealth.

Michele McDonald for The New York Times

The deals flyaround

• Jonathan Bush’s resignation from Athenahealth is yet another C.E.O. ouster to come after Elliott Management, known for hardball shareholder activism, invested in a company. (Fortune)

• Ant Financial has officially closed its latest fund-raising round at $14 billion, with a valuation of $150 billion — more than the market capitalization of Goldman Sachs. (FT)

• Deutsche Bank’s chairman, Paul Achleitner, has reportedly revived the idea of merging it with a fellow German lender, Commerzbank. (Bloomberg)

• Bayer of Germany has closed its takeover of Monsanto and dropped the U.S. company’s name. (Bloomberg)


Sundar Pichai, Google’s C.E.O.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google won’t work on A.I. weapons, but will work with the military

After a an employee backlash over its work with the Pentagon, the tech company has created a set of principles to guide its artificial intelligence projects. The seven rules, published by Google’s C.E.O, Sundar Pichai, rule out projects that could cause injury or violate human rights — but not all forms of defense work.

Jamie Condliffe’s take: Defense contracts are too lucrative for Google to give up on entirely, and there’s certainly scope for building military A.I. that doesn’t cause death and destruction. But the rules’ language is vague in places — it might not rule out the development of A.I. for use in cyberattacks, for instance — and employees may push back.

The tech flyaround

• A Facebook bug made the status updates of 14 million users public. Meanwhile, the company is hiring “news credibility specialists.”

• A National Transportation Safety Board report suggests that an Autopilot mistake contributed to a fatal Tesla crash in Mountain View, Calif., in March. (The Verge)

• During the Bitcoin boom, many long-term holders sold out to new speculators. (FT)

• Sucking carbon dioxide out of the air to fix climate change might be cheaper than we thought. (Ars Technica)


George Soros

Francois Mori/Associated Press

Kentucky Derby winner Justify has a secret co-owner: George Soros

SF Bloodstock and SF Racing Group, a company controlled by top executives at the billionaire’s investment firm, has a 15 percent stake in the horse, which is the heavy favorite to win tomorrow’s Preakness Stakes.

More from Melissa Hoppert and Matthew Goldstein of the NYT:

SF Bloodstock, which according to court filings is owned by SF Agricultural Holdings L.L.C., employs a for-profit model and focuses on the breeding side of the industry, purchasing stallions, or shares in them, and broodmares while selling yearlings at auction. In 2015, it entered into a three-year partnership with WinStar Farm and China Horse Club that allowed them to spend big while spreading risk at yearling and 2-year-old sales. That is how the group partly acquired Justify.

Elsewhere in business and sports:

• Amazon has won exclusive U.K. rights to broadcast 20 Premier League matches.

• Are sports teams now too expensive for the average billionaire?

Revolving door

Harold Ford Jr., the former congressman who was fired by Morgan Stanley amid allegations of improper behavior, is said to be planning a return to Wall Street. (Fox Business)

• BlackRock has lost David Horowitz and Benjamin Brodsky, the deputy chief investment officers of its biggest hedge fund, Fixed Income GlobalAlpha. (Bloomberg)

• Gavin Patterson will step down as the chief executive of BT, after the British telecom company said it needed new leadership. (BBC)

• The law firm Kirkland & Ellis has poached Kristin Mendoza from Latham & Watkins as a partner focusing on private equity deals. (Kirkland & Ellis)

The speed read

• How the gig economy is reshaping work: not much. (NYT)

• Economists think the Fed will raise interest rates four times this year. (WSJ)

• Inside a factory that aims to solve housing shortages. (NYT)

• A $3.3 million steak with Warren Buffett? Call it a smart tax move. (Forbes)

You can find live updates throughout the day at nytimes.com/dealbook.

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to bizday@nytimes.com.

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Can Merkel Win Anything on Trade From Trump?: DealBook Briefing

Jeff Ubben has stepped down from Fox’s board

The hedge fund mogul had been a 21st Century Fox director since 2015, but didn’t say why he was leaving, according to a joint statement by his firm, ValueAct Capital, and the company. (He did add that he supports the $52.4 billion sale of Fox assets to Disney.)

What Mr. Ubben had to say: “The management and board of FOX has done a superb job of steering the company through a time of transition for the entertainment industry.”

What Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch had to say: “Jeff has been an important partner during a transformational period. Our board and, ultimately, our shareholders, have benefited enormously from his many contributions.”

— Michael de la Merced


Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

What kept Deutsche Bank from cutting (until now)

Yesterday’s announcement by the German lender that it was retrenching was a long time coming — too long, for many critics. Peter Eavis has some potential reasons it decided to retreat so late in the game:

• Hubris: Unlike rivals, Deutsche Bank didn’t raise capital after the financial crisis, ultimately leaving it significantly weaker. By the end of last year, its tangible equity capital ratio was still below JPMorgan Chase in 2011. (Perhaps Germany’s banking regulator should have applied more pressure, as Switzerland’s did.)

• Fear: Did Deutsche Bank’s leaders worry about scaling back the investment bank because of its huge importance for revenue? (Last year, it provided 54 percent.) And about the cost of unwinding some trades?

Who could benefit from Deutsche’s pullback? JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup on the debt side, and Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan on the equity side, according to analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.


Doug Mills/The New York Times

Did NBC News do enough on harassment allegations?

The news organization asserted that the complaints that led to Matt Lauer being ousted from the “Today” show were the first of their kind. Others disagree:

• Ann Curry told the WaPo that she had approached NBC News’s management team after a female staff member said Mr. Lauer had sexually harassed her. A company spokesman disputed this.

• Linda Vester, a former correspondent, told Variety that she had been sexually harassed by Tom Brokaw. He denied the accusation.

What NBC News has done: Brought in a consultant for in-person sexual harassment prevention seminars and pledged to share the results of an internal review.

Elsewhere in sexual harassment: Women who have sued Uber saying its drivers sexually assaulted them have asked the company’s board to release them from arbitration agreements.

The political flyaround

• Under questioning on Capitol Hill, Scott Pruitt deflected questions about E.P.A. scandals, leaving many observers to think he may keep his job. (NYT)

• Budget deficits could prompt the Treasury Department to increase U.S. government borrowing, further pushing up yields. (Bloomberg)

• A former federal judge, Barbara Jones, was appointed as special master to oversee the review of materials seized from Michael Cohen. Mr. Trump distanced himself from Mr. Cohen’s legal troubles, while conceding it was him being represented in the Stormy Daniels matter . The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to protect Robert Mueller. The federal prosecutor leading the Cohen investigation is Thomas McKay, 32.

• The leading candidate in Mexico’s presidential race wants to cut ties between the U.S. and Mexican energy industries. (NYT)

• The Senate confirmed the White House’s nominee for head of the F.T.C., Joseph Simons, as well as four commissioners. (Bloomberg)


YouTube’s path away from scandal

The online video giant has largely avoided the political heat that has burned Facebook, but it has still lurched from crisis to crisis, particularly over upsetting videos.

Bloomberg Businessweek took a visit to its complex in San Bruno, Calif., to discuss its plans for avoiding a turn in the public stocks. It’s hiring many more moderators, but with a longer-term goal:

The idea is that someday humans will be able to train the machines, in a similar manner, to sniff out misinformation, smut, and abuse.

Today at Facebook: The chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, faced hours of questioning from British lawmakers yesterday — and they still want to talk to Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s annual developer conference looks less festive this year. Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook, thinks the company needs the sort of regulation that kept AT&T in one piece in the 1950s.

Elsewhere in tech: Tesla shareholders will vote on whether to hire an independent chairman. The European Commission has proposed transparency rules for search rankings.


Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

Tech earnings corner

• Amazon’s doubled its profit in the first quarter, and said it would raise the price of Prime membership to $119 a year from $99. It’s growing into something harder to manage, says Jennifer Saba of Breakingviews — and something fundamentally more profitable, says Shira Ovide of Gadfly.

• Microsoft’s profit jumped 35 percent. Its secret was “dullness and durability,” says Rob Cyran of Breakingviews.

• Intel’s profit surged 50 percent, helped by sales of server chips and other data center equipment.


Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Why is Shari Redstone so keen to merge CBS and Viacom?

Sure, there’s logic to it, in the face of the threat from Netflix and Amazon. But as the two companies continue to bicker over price and executive chairs, is there another reason Shari Redstone is pushing the idea so hard, when other CBS shareholders seem uninterested?

According to Bill Cohan of Vanity Fair, she’s getting back at her father, Sumner:

What seems to be driving Shari Redstone is familial score-settling, a quest for victory over her father, who never wanted her to have a role in either Viacom or CBS. “It’s the story of a person who was mistreated by her father,” said the source who recently noted Sumner’s physical condition, and has known the father and daughter for an extensive period of time.


Kalyan Krishnamurthy, the C.E.O. of Flipkart.

Saumya Khandelwal/Reuters

The deals flyaround

• A Walmart deal for a majority stake in Flipkart, at a roughly $20 billion valuation, is expected soon. (NYT)

• Could Sprint and T-Mobile announce a merger as early as next week? (Reuters)

• Stacey Snider, the chairwoman of 20th Century Fox, struck an elegiac tone for her movie studio as its parent company works to sell it and other assets to Disney. (NYT)

• AT&T and Time Warner have spent $1.4 billion in fees on their proposed deal. (WSJ)

• WeWork is selling $702 million worth of junk bonds. The deal was a sign of resilience in the high-yield debt markets. Axios dove into the company’s new financial metric, “community adjusted Ebitda.”

• Sequoia Capital has raised $6 billion for what’s now the biggest U.S.-based venture fund. (WSJ)

• K.K.R. is reportedly setting up a social impact investment fund. (Reuters)

• Dosh, a start-up that helps companies offer consumers cashback deals, raised $44 million from investors like PayPal. (VentureBeat)

Revolving door

Michael Zeisser, Alibaba’s top deal maker in Silicon Valley, has left, reportedly over disagreements with the vice chairman, Joe Tsai. (Recode)

• Britain’s takeover panel has appointed Simon Lindsay, Citigroup’s head of British M.&A., as its next director-general. (FT)

The speed read

• The owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan, offered to buy the English national soccer stadium, Wembley. (NYT)

• MoviePass says everything is fine now. Some of its customers don’t believe that. (NYT)

• The S.E.C. penalized the private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe for failing to disclose a conflict of interest. (WSJ)

• The law world is buzzing over the departure of another senior partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore for the disruptive Kirkland & Ellis: He’s getting $11 million a year, plus a signing bonus. (NYT)

• The gallery owner David Zwirner said he would pay more to be at art fairs if it helped smaller galleries take part. (NYT)

• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been supporting the market for rental housing, raising questions about competition. (FT)

We’d love your feedback. Please email thoughts and suggestions to bizday@nytimes.com.

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Emmanuel Macron to Press Trump to Keep Iran Nuclear Deal

“I suspect that this will be a very difficult conversation,” said Wendy R. Sherman, the former top State Department official who negotiated the Iran deal for Mr. Obama. “I’m sure that Macron will say how important staying in the deal is to a strong trans-Atlantic relationship in all things, particularly security. I think Merkel will deliver the same message on Friday.”

Even so, the White House signaled Monday that Mr. Trump enters the talks with one set impression. “He thinks it’s a bad deal — that certainly has not changed,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

The fate of the Iran agreement could influence the president’s forthcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader who already has a small nuclear arsenal. Whatever its flaws, American officials understand that canceling the Iran deal days or weeks before that meeting might complicate Mr. Trump’s chances of making an agreement with Mr. Kim.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, implicitly made that point Monday by noting that the negotiations that led to the nuclear agreement between his country and six world powers involved give and take by all sides.

“And now the United States is saying, ‘What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable. But whatever I gave you, now I want it back,’” Mr. Zarif said in an interview with The National Interest, a Washington policy magazine. “Who would, in their right mind, deal with the U.S. anymore?”

Mr. Trump faces conflicting positions among his own advisers as he reconstitutes his national security team. John R. Bolton, his new national security adviser, has long advocated simply ending the Iran deal, while Mike Pompeo, set to become secretary of state, is open to keeping it if strong new provisions can be negotiated.

Mr. Macron arrived in Washington to a festive welcome. American and French flags flew on Pennsylvania Avenue as he and his wife, Brigitte Macron, were greeted at the White House by Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump.

Mr. Macron reached in for a hug and kissed Mr. Trump on both cheeks, French-style, a sign of their warm ties. The two couples headed inside for a few minutes and then out to the South Lawn, smiling and chatting casually as cameras recorded the moment.


President Trump and his wife, Melania, with President Emmanuel Macron of France and his wife, Brigitte, on Monday on the South Lawn of the White House.

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Wielding shovels, the two presidents moved some dirt around where a tree was to be planted, a gift from the Macrons. The tree, a European sessile oak, came from Belleau Wood, where, during World War I, nearly 10,000 American Marines were killed or injured in battle in June 1918. From there, the two couples flew by helicopter to George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate for dinner.

The Macrons will return to the White House on Tuesday morning for a pomp-filled arrival ceremony on the South Lawn, complete with members of all five branches of the military in formal uniforms. The two presidents will hold meetings and conduct a joint news conference. In the evening, the Trumps will host their first state dinner, featuring rack of spring lamb and Carolina gold rice jambalaya cooked New Orleans style.

Mr. Trump, 71, and Mr. Macron, 40, have forged an unlikely friendship, despite their political differences over the Iran deal, international trade, climate change and other issues. But while Europeans consider Mr. Macron their envoy to Mr. Trump, he has had mixed success influencing the president. The two leaders teamed up to launch airstrikes against Syria this month in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack, but when Mr. Macron publicly said he had persuaded Mr. Trump to keep American troops in the country “for the long term,” the White House quickly disputed him.

Mr. Macron telegraphed his message on Iran by appearing on the president’s favorite network, Fox News, over the weekend.

Is the pact “a perfect thing for our relationship with Iran? No,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “But for nuclear, what do you have as a better option? I don’t see it. What is the what-if scenario or your Plan B? I don’t have any Plan B for nuclear against Iran.”

Mr. Macron added that he supported modifications to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A. “My point is to say, don’t leave now to J.C.P.O.A. as long as you don’t have a better option for nuclear, and let’s complete it with ballistic missile and a regional containment,” Mr. Macron said.

Mr. Zarif picked up on that on Monday. “President Macron is correct in saying there’s no ‘Plan B’ on JCPOA,” Mr. Zarif wrote on Twitter. “It’s either all or nothing. European leaders should encourage President Trump not just to stay in the nuclear deal, but more importantly to begin implementing his part of the bargain in good faith.”

The negotiations with European officials, led by Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning, have found some common ground, according to people briefed on the talks. Negotiators are developing two annexes, or side agreements, to the original deal, one intended to constrain Iran’s missile program and the other to confront its aggressions in the Middle East.

Negotiators have agreed on strong measures to impose sanctions on Iran if it tests long-range missiles and are negotiating a framework document to respond to testing of short- and medium-range missiles. They have agreed that Iran would be sanctioned if it blocks international nuclear inspectors from any site, including military sites. And they have made progress in defining a trigger for reimposing sanctions lifted as part of the 2015 deal — if Iran were found to have expanded its nuclear program enough to allow it to develop a weapon in less than a year.

But negotiators are divided over what would happen then. The Trump administration insists that sanctions be reimposed automatically if Iran trips that one-year wire, while the Europeans want the trigger to be a determination that Iran’s expansion is inconsistent with its civilian nuclear program. If the Americans and Europeans ultimately agree, that would effectively end the expiration provisions known as “sunsets” by making the one-year limit permanent.

“The Europeans have moved very far in a few months, and I think this should be bridgeable, but of course it really depends on Macron and Trump,” said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It sounds narrow, but it’s actually pretty fundamental. It’s entirely possible that the thing breaks down on that basis.”

The Germans are the most resistant among the Europeans, arguing that renegotiating without Iran or the other parties to the deal, Russia and China, amounts to bad faith and ultimately will cause the original agreement to collapse. If no side agreements are reached, the Trump administration is also preparing contingency plans for Mr. Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal altogether and what the United States would then do to counter Iran.

Russia and China have resisted any changes. “We will obstruct attempts to sabotage these agreements, which were enshrined in a U.N. Security Council resolution,” Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said Monday after meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Beijing.

But critics of the deal pressed Mr. Trump to remain strong. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Monday again condemned the agreement. The deal “gives Iran a clear path to a nuclear arsenal” and “does not deal with the ballistic missiles that can deliver this weapon to many, many countries,” he said. “This is why this deal has to be either fully fixed or fully nixed.”

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How an Outraged Europe Agreed to a Hard Line on Putin

“I can’t think of any previous occasion when so many countries have coordinated on expulsions,” said Ian Bond, a former British diplomat in Moscow, adding that for many of the smaller countries, “it’s the first time since the Cold War that they’ve even expelled one Russian diplomat.”

Russia is always a tricky issue for the European Union, given its critical role as an energy supplier to the Continent, as well as the divided opinion among leaders on how confrontational, or not, the bloc should be with Mr. Putin.

But the March 4 poisoning in Salisbury, England, of the former Russian spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, crossed a line. British authorities say they were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, marking the first use of a chemical agent on European soil since before the Second World War.

The brazen nature of the act was too much for European officials to ignore.

“This is an intelligence operation carried out with intelligence capacity with weaponized, weapons-grade chemical agents,” one senior European official said. “It has taken matters to an entirely different level.”

Alluding to Russia’s earlier aggressions in Ukraine, the senior official added: “Russia keeps violating international law in Crimea and Ukraine and unwritten rules on nonintervention, and now there is the use of nerve agents in Britain.”

In Britain, Mrs. May had already expelled 23 Russian diplomats earlier this month, while members of her cabinet spoke in increasingly strident tones against Mr. Putin. Her remarks last Thursday night seemed to stiffen the spines of other European leaders.

Mr. Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany were prominent supporters of Mrs. May’s call for action, having planned tactics with Britain before the dinner. The French had provided the British with technical assistance on analyzing the poisoning case and come to the same conclusion. And when the Franco-German couple agree, others tend to fall into line, even if grumpily.

The decision was finalized Monday morning, as European Union ambassadors met in Brussels to describe what each country was prepared to do. A statement was prepared for Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, at a meeting in Bulgaria, and the result was extraordinary — 16 European Union countries had agreed to expel one or more Russian diplomats, and others, like Ireland, were considering joining.


The entrance of the Russian Embassy in Prague. The Czech Republic said Monday that it would expel three embassy staff members.

Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Europeans have gotten used to the fact that between one-third and one-half of all the Russians at Western embassies, the European Union and NATO are working in intelligence, the official said. But Russia has now made that impossible to ignore.

There was satisfaction in Brussels over the outcome, with even Hungary, which has warm relations with Mr. Putin, agreeing to expel a Russian diplomat. Greece and Cyprus, with close ties to Moscow, were unwilling to do so without a smoking gun, and some small countries, like Malta, did not want to lose all representation in Moscow and risk breaking relations entirely.

Austria was disappointing to some, refusing to expel anyone now that the far-right Freedom Party controls the Interior Ministry.

Bulgaria, which is currently holding the bloc’s rotating presidency, begged off, citing the need for neutrality, though its ties to Moscow are clear.

“We all back Britain’s position,” Prime Minister Boiko Borisov of Bulgaria said on Friday. “While there is high likelihood, but no evidence, we cannot decide on the matter.”

The Czech Republic, which expelled three Russians, was a particularly interesting case, because the messaging was divided, even as Russian media outlets had suggested that the nerve agent could have come through there.

Acting Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Monday, “If our ally is in a serious situation and asks for help, we should come forward.”

“Russia has crossed all limits when it declared that the poisonous substance Novichok might have come from the Czech Republic,” he added. “It is a complete lie and we strongly deny it.”

But the country’s more pro-Russian president, Milos Zeman, opposed the expulsions. In a statement, he called on the country’s intelligence services to examine if Novichok was ever made or stored in the country — even though government officials have denied it.

The Italian reaction troubled some, given the negotiations going on for a new government after the strong showing of populist parties in the recent election. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League party, is an ally of Mr. Putin and criticized the expulsions.

“To boycott Russia, renew the sanctions and expel its diplomats doesn’t resolve problems, it aggravates them,” he wrote on Monday after Italy announced it would expel two Russian diplomats. “Dialogue is better. I want a government that works for a future of peace, growth and security. Am I asking too much?”

In Brussels, some officials said the coordinated expulsions proved that European solidarity can transcend even Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, known as Brexit, or the acrimonious negotiations over that decision. Others disagreed, yet Monday’s expulsions were clearly a win for Mrs. May.

In her statement to the House of Commons on Monday, Mrs. May said she had argued to European colleagues “that there should be a reappraisal of how our collective efforts can best tackle the challenge that Russia poses following President Putin’s re-election.”

She singled out France and Germany, adding: “In my discussions with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel, as well as other leaders, we agreed on the importance of sending a strong European message in response to Russia’s actions — not just out of solidarity with the U.K. but recognizing the threat posed to the national security of all E.U. countries.”

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