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A Russian flag flies near the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, to the foreign ministry Thursday where he was informed Russia is expelling 60 U.S. diplomats — the same number as the U.S. expelled stateside — and will close the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg, per the AP. Russia will take similar action in the 25 other countries that expelled Russians, expelling 150 diplomats in total.

The bottom line: This was the expected reaction and is part of the Russian playbook. A European diplomat tells Axios the response from the U.S., U.K. and others has been far stronger than the Kremlin expected over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent on British soil.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
36 mins ago - Science

Biden's military space future

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden should anticipate major and minor conflicts in space from even the earliest days of his presidency.

The big picture: President Donald Trump's military and civil space policies are well-documented, but Biden's record and views on space are less clear.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as New York's COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.

Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.