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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

Rep. Dan Crenshaw says he'll be blind for a month after eye surgery

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) in Washington, D.C., in December 2020. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in a statement Saturday he will be blind for roughly a month after getting surgery to reattach the retina in left eye.

Why it matters: Crenshaw, who lost his right eye and sustained severe damage to his left eye during his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, said he will be "pretty much off the grid for the next few weeks."

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NASA is set to fly the first test flight of its tiny Ingenuity helicopter on Mars Sunday, marking the advent of drones for space exploration.

Why it matters: If successful, this flight will be the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.

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A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.

The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.