President Donald Trump is poised to take his most aggressive actions yet against Russia on Monday, when he’s likely to announce the expulsion of dozens of diplomats in response to the nerve-gas attack on a former Russian spy living in the U.K.
The move, all but certain to provoke retaliation by President Vladimir Putin’s government, comes as Trump has tried to maintain at least the semblance of a constructive relationship with the Russian leader.
But the expulsions will align Trump with European allies who feel threatened by Russia and have had a turbulent relationship with the U.S. president, including U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Several European countries are expected to announce their own expulsions of Russian diplomats in concert with the U.S.
While U.S. policy toward Russia has gradually grown more strident in recent months, the president’s critics say he has been slow to respond to Putin’s provocations. Some have drawn a connection to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government as well as Trump’s past business relationships with Russian figures.