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Facing the expulsion of about 100 diplomats. Photo: Alexey Druzhinin / Getty

The U.S. decision to expel 60 Russian diplomats came after the U.K. told the Trump administration that was roughly the total number that European countries were expected to throw out, a European diplomat tells Axios.

Why it matters: The U.S. is expelling far more Russians than any other country, including the U.K., where double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent March 4. President Trump's move is particularly surprising given the many times he has been criticized for not taking a stronger stand on Russian aggression.

By the numbers: In response to the Skripal poisoning, the U.K. expelled 23 Russian diplomats on March 14. Every country that took action Monday other than the U.S. and Ukraine, which expelled 13 Russians, threw out between 1 and 4.

  • 144 Russian diplomats in total are to be expelled from Western countries at last count— 151 when you include the 7 expelled by NATO. That total is higher than for any single incident in Soviet or post-Soviet history.
  • 55 will be expelled from European countries other than the U.K. — a number close to the U.K. estimate of 60, though just 35 of those come from within the E.U.
  • 26 countries in total are expelling Russians.

How it happened: Over the last week or so, the U.K. held frequent conversations with western allies to brief them on the evidence against Russia and to promote common action, said the diplomat, who is familiar with the discussions but asked not to be identified.

  • The U.S. did not share the details of its announcement ahead of time, even in the final days as European countries were working to coordinate their responses, the diplomat said, adding that 60 expulsions was the "high end" of what was expected from the U.S..

Go deeper

14 mins ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

46 mins ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

Stuck jet stream brings blowtorch December in Lower 48, frigid Alaska

Short-term climate outlook for Dec. 13-19, 2021, from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA. (NOAA/CPC)

The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of year. The warmth has been so pronounced that during the weekend, brush fires broke out in a snowless, unusually mild Denver metro area.

The big picture: The jet stream, which is a river of air that rides at about 30,000 feet along the temperature contrast between air masses, steering storms as it goes, has been stuck in a position well north of the continental U.S., keeping storms and cold weather at bay.