The Holes in the Official Skripal Story

Russia has a decade long secret programme of producing and stockpiling novichok nerve agents. It also has been training agents in secret assassination techniques, and British intelligence has a copy of the Russian training manual, which includes instruction on painting nerve agent on doorknobs.

The only backing for this statement by Boris Johnson is alleged “intelligence”, and unfortunately the “intelligence” about Russia’s secret novichok programme comes from exactly the same people who brought you the intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s WMD programme, proven liars. Furthermore, the question arises why Britain has been sitting on this intelligence for a decade and doing nothing about it, including not telling the OPCW inspectors who certified Russia’s chemical weapons stocks as dismantled.

If Russia really has a professional novichok assassin training programme, why was the assassination so badly botched? Surely in a decade of development they would have discovered that the alleged method of gel on doorknob did not work? And where is the training manual which Boris Johnson claimed to possess? Having told the world — including Russia -the UK has it, what is stopping the UK from producing it, with marks that could identify the specific copy erased?

The Russians chose to use this assassination programme to target Sergei Skripal, a double agent who had been released from jail in Russia some eight years previously.

It seems remarkable that the chosen target of an attempt that would blow the existence of a secret weapon and end the cover of a decade long programme, should be nobody more prominent than a middle ranking double agent who the Russians let out of jail years ago. If they wanted him dead they could have killed him then. Furthermore the attack on him would undermine all future possible spy swaps. Putin therefore, on this reading, was willing to sacrifice both the secrecy of the novichok programme and the spy swap card just to attack Sergei Skripal. That seems highly improbable.

Only the Russians can make novichok and only the Russians had a motive to attack the Skripals.

The nub of the British government’s approach has been the shocking willingness of the corporate and state media to parrot repeatedly the lie that the nerve agent was Russian made, even after Porton Down said they could not tell where it was made and the OPCW confirmed that finding. In fact, while the Soviet Union did develop the “novichok” class of nerve agents, the programme involved scientists from all over the Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia, as I myself learnt when I visited the newly decommissioned Nukus testing facility in Uzbekistan in 2002.

Furthermore, it was the USA who decommissioned the facility and removed equipment back to the United States. At least two key scientists from the programme moved to the United States. Formulae for several novichok have been published for over a decade. The USA, UK and Iran have definitely synthesised a number of novichok formulae and almost certainly others have done so too. Dozens of states have the ability to produce novichok, as do many sophisticated non-state actors.

As for motive, the Russian motive might be revenge, but whether that really outweighs the international opprobrium incurred just ahead of the World Cup, in which so much prestige has been invested, is unclear.

What is certainly untrue is that only Russia has a motive. The obvious motive is to attempt to blame and discredit Russia. Those who might wish to do this include Ukraine and Georgia, with both of which Russia is in territorial dispute, and those states and jihadist groups with which Russia is in conflict in Syria. The NATO military industrial complex also obviously has a plain motive for fueling tension with Russia.

There is of course the possibility that Skripal was attacked by a private gangster interest with which he was in conflict, or that the attack was linked to Skripal’s MI6 handler Pablo Miller’s work on the Orbis/Steele Russiagate dossier on Donald Trump.

Plainly, the British governments statements that only Russia had the means and only Russia had the motive, are massive lies on both counts.

The Russians had been tapping the phone of Yulia Skripal. They decided to attack Sergei Skripal while his daughter was visiting from Moscow.

In an effort to shore up the government narrative, at the time of the Amesbury attack the security services put out through Pablo Miller’s long term friend, the BBC’s Mark Urban, that the Russians “may have been” tapping Yulia Skripal’s phone, and the claim that this was strong evidence that the Russians had indeed been behind the attack.

But think this through. If that were true, then the Russians deliberately attacked at a time when Yulia was in the UK rather than when Sergei was alone. Yet no motive has been adduced for an attack on Yulia or why they would attack while Yulia was visiting — they could have painted his doorknob with less fear of discovery anytime he was alone. Furthermore, it is pretty natural that Russian intelligence would tap the phone of Yulia, and of Sergei if they could. The family of double agents are normal targets. I have no doubt in the least, from decades of experience as a British diplomat, that GCHQ have been tapping Yulia’s phone. Indeed, if tapping of phones is seriously put forward as evidence of intent to murder, the British government must be very murderous indeed.

Their trained assassin(s) painted a novichok on the doorknob of the Skripal house in the suburbs of Salisbury. Either before or after the attack, they entered a public place in the centre of Salisbury and left a sealed container of the novichok there.

The incompetence of the assassination beggars belief when compared to British claims of a long term production and training programme. The Russians built the heart of the International Space Station. They can kill an old bloke in Salisbury. Why did the Russians not know that the dose from the door handle was not fatal? Why would trained assassins leave crucial evidence lying around in a public place in Salisbury? Why would they be conducting any part of the operation with the novichok in a public area in central Salisbury?

Why did nobody see them painting the doorknob? This must have involved wearing protective gear, which would look out of place in a Salisbury suburb. With Skripal being resettled by MI6, and a former intelligence officer himself, it beggars belief that MI6 did not fit, as standard, some basic security including a security camera on his house.

The Skripals both touched the doorknob and both functioned perfectly normally for at least five hours, even able to eat and drink heartily. Then they were simultaneously and instantaneously struck down by the nerve agent, at a spot in the city centre coincidentally close to where the assassins left a sealed container of the novichok lying around. Even though the nerve agent was eight times more deadly than Sarin or VX, it did not kill the Skripals because it had been on the doorknob and affected by rain.

Why did they both touch the outside doorknob in exiting and closing the door? Why did the novichok act so very slowly, with evidently no feeling of ill health for at least five hours, and then how did it strike both down absolutely simultaneously, so that neither can call for help, despite their being different sexes, weights, ages, metabolisms and receiving random completely uncontrolled doses. The odds of that happening are virtually nil. And why was the nerve agent ultimately ineffective?

Detective Sergeant Bailey attended the Skripal house and was also poisoned by the doorknob, but more lightly. None of the other police who attended the house were affected.

Why was the Detective Sergeant affected and nobody else who attended the house, or the scene where the Skripals were found? Why was Bailey only lightly affected by this extremely deadly substance, of which a tiny amount can kill?

Four months later, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess were rooting about in public parks, possibly looking for cigarette butts, and accidentally came into contact with the sealed container of a novichok. They were poisoned and Dawn Sturgess subsequently died.

If the nerve agent had survived four months because it was in a sealed container, why has this sealed container now mysteriously disappeared again? If Rowley and Sturgess had direct contact straight from the container, why did they not both die quickly? Why had four months searching of Salisbury and a massive police, security service and military operation not found this container, if Rowley and Sturgess could?

I am, with a few simple questions, demolishing what is the most ludicrous conspiracy theory I have ever heard — the Salisbury conspiracy theory being put forward by the British government and its corporate lackies.

In Greece, Wildfires Kill Dozens in Deadliest Blaze in Years

At least 49 people have been killed in fast-moving wildfires outside Athens, officials said Tuesday. As thousands of tourists and residents found evacuation routes blocked by flames, some took to rickety boats to escape.

Gale-force winds, topping more than 50 miles per hour, fanned a pair of fires that tore their way through an area popular with travelers, injuring more than 150 people and leaving a trail of charred resorts, burned-out cars and smoldering farms in their wake.

Greece’s emergency services were stretched to capacity, as more than 600 firefighters were deployed to the sites of the two largest fires, in Rafina, east of Athens, and Kineta to the west. The country’s entire fleet of water-dropping aircraft was deployed on Monday, and officials called on their partners in the European Union for help.

Whole towns were destroyed, locals said, and officials warned that the death toll would rise as emergency workers cleared burned homes and cars, in which some evacuees had become trapped.

“Mati doesn’t even exist as a settlement anymore,” a resident told Skai TV. “I saw corpses, burned-out cars. I feel lucky to be alive.”

Roads into Athens were choked by residents trying to flee, hampering rescuers’ efforts to reach the fires. Penned in by the flames, some looked to the sea to escape, hitching rides on passing fishing boats or resorting to makeshift rafts before the navy began an organized evacuation.

Escaping by sea, however, posed its own deadly challenge: The Greek Coast Guard said it recovered the bodies of at least four evacuees.

On Monday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cut short an official visit to Croatia.

“It’s a difficult night for Greece,” Mr. Tsipras said. “We are dealing with something completely asymmetric.”

Wildfires are an annual occurrence in the hot, dry summer months. But a drought and a recent heat wave, which saw temperatures exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, have fueled these fires, Greece’s deadliest in more than a decade. Sixty people were killed in a 2007 blaze that swept through the country’s Peloponnese region.

The fires have so far skirted Athens, leaving the city’s ancient ruins unscathed. The blaze, however, could be seen from the capital and bits of ash fell on the city.

What Is at Stake in Pakistan’s Election?

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistanis will go to the polls on Wednesday to elect a prime minister, transferring power from one civilian government to another for only the second time in the nation’s 70-year history.

The election comes at a critical moment for a country of 200 million people and for a region stressed by war. Pakistan is a nuclear state, an antipathetic but important American ally, and one of the largest Muslim-majority countries in the world.

This year’s election could have been an occasion for Pakistanis to celebrate their democracy. Instead, the campaign has been marred by suppression of the news media, accusations of manipulation by the military, a rise in Islamist extremist candidates and a series of attacks on candidates and campaign rallies, including one that killed 151 people.

Here is what you need to know.

Pakistan’s politics have always been messy: The country has routinely toggled between elected governments and military dictatorships, and a prime minister has never completed his or her entire five-year term. But this year’s campaign has been particularly fraught, given the military’s efforts to push the former governing party out of the running.

Despite that manipulation, the election on Wednesday will serve as a kind of referendum on some of the most crucial issues facing the country. Should Pakistan orient its economy toward the West or toward China? Is its democracy robust enough to include extremist candidates who support militancy, or should they be limited? Can the military and the courts be trusted as impartial and objective institutions?

Wedged between Afghanistan, where an American-led war has stretched on for 17 years, and its historic rival India, Pakistan is always at risk of a conflagration. It has served both as a crucial base for American forces fighting in Afghanistan and as a powerful obstacle to those same troops, secretly offering aid and safe harbor to militant groups, including the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

But Pakistan’s problems are not just about regional security — they are also about its ability to provide opportunity for its own people, including a growing class of young and educated Pakistanis. Despite its size and potential, the country’s economy has lagged, and it faces persistent problems with corruption and environmental stress.

As tensions with the United States and other Western countries have intensified — particularly over accusations that Pakistan is not doing enough to curb the Afghan Taliban and other militant groups — Pakistan has increasingly turned to China for aid and support. But that pivot has come with its own problems, including concern over the quickly increasing amount of debt Pakistan is racking up with China.

There are 122 parties fielding candidates in the election. They all promise jobs, social welfare and housing plans. But the overarching theme of the election has become the confrontation between the military and the governing party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or P.M.L.-N. The party accuses the military of intimidating some of its leading figures into defecting to other blocs, and of unfairly supporting a rival candidate, Imran Khan.

Mr. Khan, 65, is a former international cricket star who has promised an alternative to the corruption and the entrenched political dynasties voters associate with the other leading parties. His rivals attribute his surge in the polls to a back-room deal struck with the military, which they claim has worked to undermine the election. Mr. Khan has denied that accusation, chalking up the accusations of meddling to sour grapes.

Mr. Khan, whose success on the cricket pitch made him a household name, has held a seat in the National Assembly for five years but has never run a government. A large number of independent candidates are expected to join his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I., if it wins.

Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister, was ousted last year by the country’s Supreme Court. He was convicted of corruption and is now in prison after returning from London this month to be arrested. Mr. Sharif says those court decisions were made under pressure from the military, which opposed his attempts as prime minister to reassert control over the country’s defense and foreign policy.

But his family remains politically powerful. His younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, 66, is the current president of the P.M.L.-N. and hopes to lead the country. Until recently, he was the chief minister of Punjab, the most populous and prosperous of the country’s four provinces and the party’s biggest source of support.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 29, is the scion of one of Pakistan’s most illustrious and star-crossed dynasties. He is the son and grandson of two former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated, and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was executed. His father, former President Asif Ali Zardari, is considered to wield the real power in the left-leaning Pakistan Peoples Party.

The younger Mr. Zardari is not expected to win, but he could potentially play kingmaker if neither Mr. Khan nor Mr. Sharif receives enough votes to form a government.

Pakistan was recently added to the Financial Action Task Force’s “gray list” of state sponsors of terrorism, increasing pressure on the country to crack down on extremist groups. At nearly the same time, however, the country’s electoral commission was paving the way for more candidates with extremist ties to run for office.

Among the parties seeking seats on Wednesday are Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek, the reconstituted version of a party that officials had previously banned, and Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan, which backs the country’s contentious blasphemy laws.

Trump Meets Putin: Live Updates From Finland

Right Now: President Trump is in Helsinki, Finland, for his first summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

President Trump will hold one-on-one talks with Mr. Putin at an exceptionally awkward time — just days after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence agents on charges of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The meeting will cap a weeklong trip to Europe in which Mr. Trump’s distaste for diplomatic norms has been made abundantly clear: He caused turmoil at the NATO summit meeting by demanding that allies spend more on defense, suggesting that Prime Minister Theresa May sue the European Union over Brexit and calling the bloc a “trade foe.”

• The meeting will be closely scrutinized for signs of whether Mr. Trump is friendlier to his Russian counterpart than he was to the NATO leaders or to Mrs. May.

• Mr. Putin proposed the meeting in March during a phone call with Mr. Trump, and American officials say the Russian leader desperately needs Washington to ease sanctions that have squeezed his country’s economy and oligarchs.

• American observers on both sides of the political aisle fear that Mr. Trump, who dislikes policy briefings and has said he needs no preparation for the meeting, could be an easy mark for manipulation by Mr. Putin, a former intelligence agent whom Mr. Trump has refused to criticize directly.

• The New York Times has live coverage of his seven-day, three-nation trip, from our White House reporters and European correspondents. Photographs from Mr. Trump’s trip are here.

They’ve called each other and met publicly at least twice on the sidelines of international events: at the Group of 20 summit meeting last July in Hamburg, Germany, and at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering in November in Danang, Vietnam.

But Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin are holding their first formal summit meeting in Helsinki on Monday.

According to the office of the Finnish president, Sauli Niinisto, the American and Russian leaders will sit down at the 19th-century presidential palace. Some likely topics of discussion: nuclear proliferation, Syria, Iran, Ukraine and Russian election meddling, to name a few.

Finland said it would reinstate border controls for travelers from Schengen countries for four days starting on Friday, to tighten security for the meeting.

It was in the Finnish capital in 1975 that President Gerald R. Ford and the Soviet leader then, Leonid I. Brezhnev, along with other European leaders, signed the Helsinki Accords. The Soviets had pushed for the deal to cement their expanded borders, and Western nations used it to pressure the Soviets on human rights and other issues.

It was also in Helsinki that Mr. Brezhnev offered to help Mr. Ford win the next presidential election, according to a former White House arms control adviser.

Whatever you do, don’t call it a “summit.”

A day before Mr. Trump was to meet with Mr. Putin, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the United States ambassador to Russia, played down expectations for the encounter, trying to downgrade it to mere “meeting” status as he emphasized that it was more about reducing hostilities than about delivering on specific policy goals.

“It isn’t a summit — I’ve heard it called a summit — it’s a meeting,” Mr. Huntsman said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, noting that there would be no state dinner and no joint statement from the leaders at the end. “This is an attempt to see if we can defuse and take some of the drama, and quite frankly some of the danger, out of the relationship right now.”

Still, the two presidents are expected to hold extensive meetings — including a one-on-one session, another with top advisers present and a working lunch — before they face the news media together.

And when Mr. Huntsman briefed reporters this month to preview the scheduled interaction, he referred to it repeatedly as a “summit,” and called it a landmark event.

“You know, I think the fact that we’re having a summit at this level, at this time in history, is a deliverable in itself,” Mr. Huntsman said at the time. “I don’t exclude that there will be some concrete agreement that will be announced coming out on the other end of the summit.”

Mr. Trump has spent the past few days trying to lower expectations himself, telling CBS in an interview on Saturday, “I go in with low expectations.”

But on Sunday, he parted ways with his envoy to Moscow in a tweet storm from Air Force One in which he lamented that no matter how well the meetings went, he would be criticized afterward.

Mr. Trump called it a “summit.”

— Julie Hirschfeld Davis

There is no giant balloon portraying Mr. Trump as a big angry baby in diapers in the Finnish capital, as there was in London last week and in Edinburgh on Saturday. In Helsinki, the final stop of Mr. Trump’s disruption tour of Europe, he has to share being the target of protesters’ ridicule and rage with Mr. Putin.

Shortly before Mr. Trump arrived in Finland on Sunday, thousands of protesters marched through the center of Helsinki in a display of equal-opportunity anger, directed at both leaders.

“Trump-Putin — the two-headed monster,” read a hand-painted sign carried by Paulina Pepaola, a Finnish woman who joined the march from a park near the central train station to Senate Square. “I am totally against both of them. They are working together. Putin controls Trump.”

Tapio Waren, a businessman in the construction industry, waved a mocking banner reminding the two leaders that Finns, according to opinion polls, don’t think much of their stewardship of world affairs: “The world’s a safer place because of you — think 3 percent of Finns.”

Mr. Waren said that he had nothing against either man personally, but that he hated their policies. “Each one has such terrible policies it is hard to say who is worse,” he said.

A rally in Senate Square at the end of the march brought together so many different people, often with disparate and sometimes contradictory agendas — rights activists, supporters of Ukraine, opponents of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, champions of L.G.B.T. rights, #MeToo campaigners and evangelical Christians — that the only common thread was the shared dismay that Helsinki was to host the first formal summit meeting between two such unpopular leaders.

“Trump and Putin are not welcome in Helsinki. Go home,” read a banner unfurled outside the colonnaded entrance to Helsinki Cathedral, which dominates the square.

A Finnish musical group, Tuomo & Markus, sent a message of its own, releasing on YouTube a version of Bob Dylan’s 1989 song “Political World.”

“While we believe in constructive dialogue, we strongly oppose to the existing world views and politics of Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin. Human rights, freedom of speech, gender equality nor climate change don’t seem to fit in their vocabulary,” the group said in a statement posted on its website. “Please prove us wrong,” it added.

But not everyone was inhospitable. A Russian-Finnish friendship association, RUFI, announced that it would hold its own rally in Senate Square on Monday to welcome Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump, and “to show our highly placed guests that not everybody in Finland has a negative view of world leaders, that not all thirst for conflict, even war.”

— Andrew Higgins

Juho Rahkosen, a pollster in Finland who says he supports some of Mr. Trump’s policies, wishes he had better news for him but can’t ignore the numbers: The American leader is so deeply unpopular in Finland — a Nordic nation of 5.5 million — that even Mr. Putin has more fans.

A survey commissioned by the magazine Seura and conducted by Taloustutkimus, a leading Finish polling organization, found that 83 percent of Finns — and 91 percent of Finnish women — have a negative view of Mr. Trump, compared with 75 percent for Mr. Putin.

“I am ashamed to have a guest in our country while I am publishing such terrible numbers,” said Mr. Rahkosen, the research manager at Taloustutkimus.

Even supporters of The Finns, a populist, anti-immigrant political party formerly known as the True Finns, don’t like Mr. Trump much, though they are slightly less down on him than is the population as a whole.

“Unfortunately, Finland has extremely negative attitudes towards Trump — I’m afraid there is not much he can do about this,” Mr. Rahkosen added, noting that Mr. Trump displays “somewhat the opposite” of the measured honesty, discipline and trust in global institutions that Finns expect in a leader.

“They think he is some sort of cowboy who writes his own rules,” he said. “This frightens people because they are not used to an American president who writes his own rules.”

Mr. Rahkosen says that he personally likes some things about Mr. Trump and that “Finland, of course, has far more to worry about from Putin and his actions” because it shares an 830-mile border with Russia.

But, he added, “You really need to have guts and courage to admit you like Trump in Finland.”

— Andrew Higgins

That Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin are to meet one on one — with interpreters present but no advisers — has added an element of unpredictability to a high-stakes encounter.

Mr. Trump’s perceived admiration of Mr. Putin, his urging at the recent Group of 7 meeting that Russia be readmitted despite its annexation of Crimea and his efforts to minimize United States intelligence about the impact of Moscow’s cyberattacks on the 2016 election have foreign policy experts and some in the White House wondering what he may give away to Mr. Putin — deliberately or inadvertently.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, on Friday compared the danger of Russian cyberattacks with the warnings the United States had of increased terrorism threats ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks. “The warning lights are blinking red again,” Mr. Coats said. “The digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack.”

He said Russia should be held to account.

Allies including Britain say they welcome the Helsinki meeting, but Mrs. May warned that it must address Russian “malign activity.” (Russia is the chief suspect in an attack using a nerve agent on British soil that led to a woman’s death.)

Some analysts also note that while Mr. Trump abhors briefing memos, Mr. Putin will be well schooled before the meeting. Analysts say the fact that the meeting is occurring at all is already a victory of sorts for the Russian leader.

White House advisers have described the summit meeting as a chance to reset a tense relationship, and Mr. Trump has dismissed concerns, mocking those who point to Mr. Putin’s past as a spymaster, suggesting that he could manipulate the American leader.

“‘You know, President Putin is K.G.B.,’ and this and that,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what? Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people. Will I be prepared? Totally prepared. I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”

When their motorcades carry them through the streets of Helsinki, Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin, both fierce critics of the news media, will be treated to a lecture of sorts.

“Mr. President, welcome to the land of free press,” reads one giant digital billboard that toggles between English and Russian. Other signs, more than 280 in all, bear headlines about both presidents’ assaults on journalists.

“Trump calls media enemy of the people,” one reads.

“Putin increases attacks on media,” says another.

The headlines are from Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest newspaper and the sponsor of the advertising campaign that placed billboards along the route from the airport to downtown Helsinki, where the two presidents are to meet.

The paper also produced a video showing Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin lashing out against news organizations, something Mr. Trump did even as Air Force One made its way to Helsinki on Sunday, when he tweeted that “much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people” and would not give him proper credit for the summit meeting.

“The two presidents are known for their previous attempts to control the media,” reads a subtitle on the video, which calls Finland “one of the highest-ranking countries in press freedom.”

“So,” it concludes, “these headlines are free to tell the truth.”

— Julie Hirschfeld Davis

Trump’s U.K. Visit: A Sedate Dinner, a Bombshell Interview

The tension and uncertainty surrounding President Trump’s trip to Britain reached new heights after the publication Thursday night of a bombshell interview in which he said Prime Minister Theresa May was taking the wrong approach to Brexit, praised her political rival and former foreign secretary, and renewed his feud with the mayor of London.

The president has never shown much affection for diplomatic norms and multilateral institutions, and that was on full display earlier Thursday at the NATO summit meeting in Brussels, where he forced an emergency budget meeting after castigating other members over their military spending.

For the president to criticize and politically undercut Mrs. May, one of his closest international allies, on her home turf is an extraordinary breach of protocol, but if anything seems clear at this point, it is that there is no reason to expect the expected.

• Mr. Trump is scheduled to hold talks and a working lunch on Friday with Mrs. May — followed by tea with the queen — but his interview with The Sun could put a chill on the encounter before it begins.

• Mrs. May has strived to maintain cordial relations with Mr. Trump, mindful of her country’s desire to strike a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States, but he told The Sun that her current approach “would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States.”

• Mr. Trump said at a news conference that “they like me a lot in the U.K.,” but he was greeted with protests on Thursday, and there’s more to come on Friday. He is largely avoiding London, telling The Sun, “When they make you feel unwelcome, why would I stay there.”

• The NATO meeting ended with Mr. Trump reaffirming his support for the alliance, but only after a confrontation in which he said leaders had agreed to increase spending — a claim that at least two European leaders refuted.

• The New York Times has live coverage of his seven-day, three-nation trip, from our White House reporters and European correspondents. Photographs from Mr. Trump’s weeklong trip are here.

Mr. Trump breathed new life into his long-distance, long-running feud with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with his harsh comments on the city and its leader, and the mayor struck back on Friday.

“Take a look at the terrorism that’s taking place,” Mr. Trump told The Sun. “Look at what’s going on in London. I think he’s done a terrible job.” He added, “I think he’s done a bad job on crime.”

Speaking to BBC Radio on Friday, Mr. Khan said he thought it “interesting that President Trump is not criticizing the mayors of other cities” that have experienced terrorist attacks.

That appeared to be a reference to Mr. Khan’s faith — he is among few Muslims serving as mayor of a major Western city, and Mr. Trump has sought to restrict travel to the United States from people from predominantly -Muslim countries.

London has been struggling with an increase in knife crimes, but Mr. Khan said that to blame immigration for the increase was “preposterous.”

Mr. Khan also defended his decision to allow a balloon depicting Mr. Trump as an angry, orange baby to float over Westminister. “Can you imagine if we limited freedom of speech because someone might get hurt?” he told the BBC. As mayor, he said, he “should not be the arbiter of what is in good taste or bad taste.”

The main order of business on Friday for Mr. Trump is a private conversation and working lunch with Mrs. May, who dearly wants to strike a trade deal with the United States as she tries to negotiate Britain’s departure from the European Union.

But Mr. Trump’s interview with The Sun, published Thursday night, overshadowed the meeting and threw some cold water on the prime minister’s hopes.

If Mrs. May persists in seeking a so-called soft exit from the European Union, Mr. Trump reportedly told The Sun, she can forget about a separate pact with the United States.

“If they do that,” the paper quoted him as saying, “then their trade deal with the U.S. will probably not be made.”

He described the prime minister’s approach to Brexit as “very unfortunate,” and said, “I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me.”

He had much warmer words for Boris Johnson, the ambitious British politician who just quit as foreign minister in an open break with Mrs. May, and is seen as one of her primary rivals within the Conservative Party. Mr. Johnson, he said, would “make a great prime minister.”

At the very least, the interview gave Mr. Trump and Mrs. May some things to talk about on Friday.

British newspapers, especially the tabloids, know a good story when they see one, and the release of President Trump’s interview with The Sun dominated the front pages. A sampling of the headlines:

The Sun, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., proclaimed under a banner trumpeting the interview, “May has wrecked Brexit … deal is off!”

The Times of London, which is also owned by News Corp. but generally takes a more restrained approach, said, “Trump: May’s soft Brexit will kill chance of US trade deal.”

The Daily Mail described it as the “President’s Brexit Attack on May,” while another tabloid, the Daily Mirror, took a briefer approach that nonetheless managed to make its point: “Donald Thump.”

The Guardian has compiled a roundup of the pages here.

Protesters across from the ambassador’s residence, where the Trumps were staying the night, unleashed a “wall of sound.” It featured the cries of children detained by U.S. immigration authorities, as well a relentless stream of slogans, whistles and the banging of pots and drums.

As the presidential helicopter descended on the grounds of the ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, preparing to whisk Mr. Trump away to a black-tie dinner in a secluded palace outside the capital, protesters raised a cry.

British authorities had set up a metallic cage around the ambassador’s residence, where President Trump stayed overnight, as part of his security.

On Thursday, activists gave a taste of the protests planned on Friday, though the crowd thinned out after the president left for the dinner at Blenheim Palace.

Organizers hope to mount the biggest weekday demonstration in Britain since protests against the Iraq War more than a decade ago. Hundreds of protesters chanted and waved signs outside Blenheim Palace on Thursday night, when Mr. Trump was there for a gala dinner, and protests are planned for other stops on his visit.

“He needs to be called out,” said Harley Day, 23, a college student who joined the Regent’s Park protest after classes. “His bigotry, his sexism, his Islamophobia, his general xenophobia and crass inability to empathize.”

(Ceylan Yeginsu looks at the less-than-friendly greetings being planned for the president in Britain.)

Mr. Trump recommitted the United States to support for NATO, a bedrock of Western security policy for generations, on Thursday, comments that at least temporarily calmed fears that he might move toward dismantling the alliance.

“The United States commitment to NATO is very strong, remains very strong,” he said at a news conference in Brussels. “I believe in NATO.”

But if Mr. Trump’s public remarks were friendly, the tone behind closed doors was much harsher. Officials from other countries voiced fears that even if he had not broken an alliance that was first formed in 1949 to contain the Soviet Union, he had thrown some sand in its gears.

According to a person briefed on Mr. Trump’s meeting with other NATO leaders, Mr. Trump said that if the other countries did not increase military spending to 2 percent of their economic output by January, the United States “would go it alone.”

But within a few hours, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, said the allies had simply agreed to keep a 2014 commitment to increase military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024.

“A communiqué was issued yesterday,” Mr. Macron told reporters after the meeting in Brussels. “This communiqué is clear. It reaffirms the 2 percent by 2024 commitments. That’s all.”

Mr. Conte said: “Italy inherited spending commitments to NATO, commitments that we did not change, so no increase in spending. As far as we’re concerned, today we did not decide to offer extra contributions with respect to what was decided some time ago.”

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said that her country would consider more spending, but she said nothing about any new commitments. And she undercut the notion that reconsideration of Germany’s defense budget was due simply to American pressure.

— Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger

Other NATO leaders mostly refrained from responding to Mr. Trump’s disdain and criticism, but the body language at the summit meeting said plenty, and it was not a message of warmth and harmony.

[Read more about the awkwardness of the summit meeting here.]

As the leaders walked to the site of a group photograph, many of them chatting easily with one another, Mr. Trump hung back, with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

When they took their assigned spots, Mr. Trump stood near the center, but his counterparts mostly ignored him, giving him no more than sidelong glances, even as several of them continued conversing.

A number of news organizations noted the awkwardness, drawing rebukes from White House aides, who called it “fake news.”

Hours after Mr. Trump castigated Germany, he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, then the two of them briefed reporters on their conversation. The president smiled and spoke of a “very, very good relationship;” the chancellor did not. — Katie Rogers

American presidents have long pressed their NATO counterparts to increase military spending. But Mr. Trump’s insistence that the other nations owe money misstates how the alliance works, and the figures he cites are misleading.

(Our reporters fact-checked the president’s claims on the financial relationship between the United States and other NATO countries.)

NATO has a budget to cover shared costs and some equipment used in joint operations, and all 29 member countries contribute to it. None of the allies has failed to pay its contribution.

Mr. Trump’s complaint is that, while NATO member countries have agreed to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic products on military spending, most do not. But none has violated that agreement, because the 2 percent figure is a target to be reached by 2024.

According to NATO, all members have significantly raised military spending since 2014, and eight are expected to meet the goal this year.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday that the United States accounted for 90 percent of military spending by NATO countries, but the alliance says the real figure is about 67 percent. And most American military spending is not NATO-related.

Even so, the organization says on its website, “There is an overreliance by the alliance as a whole on the United States for the provision of essential capabilities, including, for instance, in regard to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air refueling; ballistic missile defense; and airborne electronic warfare.”

— Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger

Mr. Trump’s first summit meeting with the Russian president will be parsed for countless layers of meaning.

The West’s stance toward Russia is, as always, a central topic at the NATO meeting, and the United States’ European allies are worried that Mr. Trump aims to reduce the American security role in dealing with Moscow.

Russia is waging a proxy war against Ukraine, has forcibly annexed part of that country, has meddled in other nations’ elections, gives crucial support to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and stands accused of using a chemical weapon on British soil.

Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign is under investigation for links to Russia, and Mr. Trump, who is quick to aim a barb at almost anyone else, has been reluctant to criticize Mr. Putin. Yet he and his aides bristle at accusations that he is not tough enough with the Kremlin.

The meeting with Mr. Putin will be closely analyzed for signs that Mr. Trump is friendlier to his Russian counterpart than to the leaders he is meeting in Brussels.

‘Still Can’t Believe It Worked’: The Story of the Thailand Cave Rescue

MAE SAI, Thailand — Improbably enough, most of the escapes went flawlessly.

But on trip No. 11, to save one of the last soccer teammates stuck for 18 days deep inside the cave, something went dangerously wrong.

Rescuers inside an underground chamber felt a tug on the rope — the sign that one of the 12 boys and their coach would soon emerge from the flooded tunnels.

“Fish on,” the rescuers signaled, recalled Maj. Charles Hodges of the United States Air Force, mission commander for the American team on site.

Fifteen minutes went by. Then 60. Then 90.

As the rescuers waited anxiously, a diver navigating the 11th teammate through the underwater maze lost hold of the guide rope. With visibility near zero, he couldn’t find the line again. Slowly, he backtracked, going deeper into the cave to get his bearings before trying again.

At last, the survivor got through, safely.

It was a frightening moment in what had been a surprisingly smooth rescue of the soccer team, the Wild Boars, who had survived the murky darkness of Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave, sometimes by licking water off the cold limestone walls.

“The whole world was watching, so we had to succeed,” said Kaew, a Thai Navy Seal who shook his head in amazement at how every one of the rescues worked. “I don’t think we had any other choice.”

Interviews with military personnel and officials detailed a rescue assembled from an amalgam of muscle and brainpower from around the world: 10,000 people participated, including 2,000 soldiers, 200 divers and representatives from 100 government agencies.

It took plastic cocoons, floating stretchers and a rope line that hoisted the players and coach over outcroppings. The boys had been stranded on a rocky perch more a mile underground. Extracting them required long stretches underwater, in bone-chilling temperatures, and keeping them submerged for around 40 minutes at a time. The boys were even given anti-anxiety medication to avert panic attacks.

“The most important piece of the rescue was good luck,” said Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakham, the deputy commander of the Third Army region, which helped the operation. “So many things could have gone wrong, but somehow we managed to get the boys out.”

“I still can’t believe it worked,” he said.

The risks were underscored last Friday when Saman Gunan, a retired Navy SEAL, died in an underwater passageway. Three SEAL frogmen were hospitalized after their air tanks ran low. Swift currents pushed divers off-track for hours at a time, sometimes tearing off their face masks.

More than 150 Thai Navy SEAL members, outfitted with improvised equipment sometimes held together with duct tape, helped create the escape route. A crew of foreign and Thai cave divers courted death every time they explored Tham Luang’s cramped chambers. Overseas military teams brought search-and-rescue equipment. The Americans provided logistics, while British divers navigated the most hazardous stretches.

Thailand’s new king donated supplies, and people across the nation volunteered in any way they could, cooking meals for rescuers, operating pumps to suck water out of the cave and hunting for hidden cracks in the limestone formations through which the Wild Boars could perhaps be lifted to safety.

But, most of all, the operation to save the team of 11- to 16-year old boys and their coach, said officials and divers, took bravery.

“I don’t know of any other rescue that put the rescuer and the rescuee in so much danger over a prolonged period of time, unless it is something along the lines of firefighters going into the World Trade Center knowing that the building is on fire and is going to collapse,” Major Hodges said.

Tham Luang Cave is a rare place where a person can become completely isolated. There is no GPS, no Wi-Fi, no cellphone service. The last known survey was conducted in the 1980s by a French caving society, but many of its deepest recesses remain unmapped. Spelunkers consider the cave one of the most challenging in the world.

When the search began, estimates of distances between key points were inaccurate and the location of landmarks uncertain, clouding even the most basic assumptions. Nevertheless, officials knew about Tham Luang’s dangers well and had placed a warning sign at the cave’s mouth against entering during the rainy season, when flash floods could inundate its chambers.

Rain was forecast for June 23, the day the Wild Boars made their excursion to Tham Luang, but the boys had ventured into the cave before. They left their bikes and soccer cleats and set off with flashlights, water and snacks bought to celebrate one of the boy’s birthdays.

The last of the boys would not emerge until July 10.

By the end of the first night, their parents were frantic. A contingent of Navy SEALs arrived 24 hours later, and began pushing their way into the flooded cave at 4 a.m. the next day.

But the Thai frogmen were accustomed to tropical open water, not the murky cold currents racing through the cave. They lacked the equipment, much less the expertise needed for caves, where divers cannot just rise to the surface should something go wrong.

On June 25, Ruengrit Changkwanyuen, a Thai regional manager for General Motors, was among the first volunteer cave divers to show up at the scene. Dozens would follow, from places including Finland, Britain, China, Australia and the United States.

Even for someone as experienced in cave diving as Mr. Ruengrit, the force of the water in Tham Luang shocked him, tearing his mask off when he failed to position himself directly facing the current.

“It was like walking into a strong waterfall and feeling the water rushing at you,” he said. “It was a horizontal climb against the water with every move.”

The Navy SEALs and volunteer divers painstakingly penetrated the cave, securing guidelines needed to ensure their safety. They found footprints that hinted at the soccer team’s trail. But as monsoon rains inundated the area, the porous limestone cave absorbed water like a sponge. Once accessible caverns flooded entirely.

“If you put your hand in front of you, it just disappeared,” said Kaew, the Navy SEAL who escaped the final deluge. “You couldn’t see anything.”

Deep within the cave, the water was so cold that the Thai divers’ teeth chattered while they rested during 12-hour shifts. Lacking proper helmets, the SEALs taped a medley of flashlights to their improvised headgear.

On the 10th day, July 2, with little hope of discovering anything but bodies, a pair of British divers working to extend a network of guide ropes popped up near a narrow ledge.

Suddenly, they saw 13 emaciated people perched in the dark. The Wild Boars had run out of food and light but had survived by sipping the condensation from the cave walls.

Elation at their discovery, however, quickly turned to anxiety. Capt. Anand Surawan, the deputy commander of the Thai Navy SEALs who was running an operational center in Tham Luang, suggested that the boys and their coach might have to stay in the cave for four months until the rainy season subsided.

Three Thai SEALs went missing during the operation for 23 hours, and when they finally reappeared, they were so weak from a lack of oxygen that they were rushed to the hospital.

Four days after the boys were found, Mr. Saman, the retired Navy SEAL who left his airport security job to volunteer, died as he was placing air tanks on an underwater supply route. His family declined an autopsy, but some Thai officials said that he ran out of air in his tanks. Others believe he succumbed to hypothermia.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Mr. Saman’s father, Wichai Gunan, a car mechanic. “He is a hero who did all he could to help the boys.”

Meanwhile, efforts to drain the cave, through pumps and a makeshift dam, began producing results. Crags and outcroppings emerged from the murk. The most waterlogged passage, which had taken five hours to navigate in the early going, could now be traversed in two hours with the help of guide ropes.

By last weekend, the rescuers were eager to act. Rain was back in the forecast. The oxygen level where the boys were sheltering had dipped to 15 percent. At 12 percent, the air might turn deadly.

The operation kept shifting with each variable: the water, the air, the mud, even the mental and physical state of the young soccer players. Because the boys could not swim, they needed full-face masks into which a rich oxygen mix was pumped.

But the masks that the American team brought with them were sized for adults. So they tested the gear on volunteer children in a local swimming pool, and discovered that by pulling the five straps as tight as possible, they would work.

The 30-strong American team, which was integral to the planning, recommended that each child be confined in a flexible plastic cocoon, called a Sked, which is marketed as a rescue stretcher and is a standard part of the Air Force team’s gear.

British cave divers navigated the wrapped boys through the trickiest underwater passages, while monitoring for air bubbles that proved they were breathing.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha of Thailand said the boys had been given anti-anxiety medication.

“They just had to lay there and be comfortable,” said Major Hodges, the leader of the American team.

Once the boys completed the underwater portion of their journey, which took around two hours, the going was easier — though still challenging. Navy SEALs formed relay teams to lift the Wild Boars down steep slopes on which every step was slippery.

At one point, the plastic bundles containing the teammates were placed on the hoses for the water pumps, which acted as an impromptu slide. Rope lines hoisted the soccer team aloft so they could swing past particularly craggy parts of the cave. In one leg of the escape, the cocoons were placed on floating stretchers, and Thai frogmen pushed them along.

Kaew, the Thai Navy SEAL, was standing in the chilly flood of the cave on Tuesday night, swallowing his last bite of seafood-and-pineapple pizza, when he heard the yelled warning: More water was coming fast — get out now.

For three grueling days, he and his comrades had been hefting the 12 boys and their coach one by one through the series of slick and steep caverns to safety.

Just moments before the alarm, he had welcomed back the SEAL team that stayed with the boys for eight days on the rock where they had been trapped deep within Tham Luang’s flooded maze.

“The boys were safe, and my friends were safe,” said Kaew, who was not authorized to give his full name. “I thought, finally, the mission is a success.”

Then, when it was seemingly all over, a drainage pump to minimize flooding failed. What had been waist-high water surged to chest level in a vicious torrent where Kaew was standing, about a half-mile inside the cave’s mouth. The SEAL, who had no scuba gear with him, scrambled to higher ground, barely escaping the final deluge.

It was a chaotic finale to the rescue. Many of the divers and residents of the nearby northern Thai town of Mae Sai saw the last-minute flood as a sign that divine protection had ceased only after all were safe.

NATO Summit Live Updates: Trump Pushes Allies to Increase Spending

Right Now: Trump prepares for Day 2 of the NATO summit, before heading to Britain.

• President Trump is in Brussels as part of a seven-day, three-nation European trip that highlights the ways he has utterly transformed United States foreign policy.

• Though he criticized allies and pressed for large spending increases, Mr. Trump also signed onto a joint statement that largely reaffirmed existing commitments.

• The president has upended generations of American diplomacy, antagonizing and belittling traditional allies over issues like defense and trade, while refraining from criticizing Russia, traditionally an adversary.

• After the NATO meeting, he is to travel to Britain and then to Finland to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

• The New York Times will have live coverage from Brussels throughout the meeting, from our White House reporters and European correspondents. Pictures from Mr. Trump’s weeklong trip are here.

Mr. Trump called on other NATO members to more than double their military spending in talks on Wednesday, the White House said, although he and other leaders signed a statement that largely reiterates existing principles and commitments.

“During the president’s remarks today at the NATO summit, he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 percent of their G.D.P. on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4 percent,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement.

“President Trump,” the statement said, “wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”

Still, along with 28 other heads of state, Mr. Trump signed the 23-page NATO declaration, which reflects months of negotiation. That contrasts with Mr. Trump’s departure last month from the Group of 7 summit meeting, when he refused to sign onto the usual carefully crafted communiqué.

[Read the full story here.]

NATO members agreed in 2014 to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on their militaries by 2024. Mr. Trump has repeatedly castigated other countries for spending less, even though the deadline is six years away, but the declaration reaffirmed the commitment to that target.

The 79-point joint statement also censured Russia’s actions in Ukraine in the bluntest terms: “We strongly condemn Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognize.”

Just over a week ago, the president told reporters on Air Force One that he was considering supporting Russia’s claim to Crimea, which it seized in 2014.

The allies agreed to a NATO Readiness Initiative, which would allow the group to assemble a fighting force of 30 land battalions, 30 aircraft squadrons and 30 warships within 30 days. The initiative reflects a “30-30-30-30” plan pushed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and meant to deter Russian aggression in Europe.

As Mr. Trump exited the NATO headquarters, he left allies and analysts alike a bit off balance.

“Trump is coming through and saying, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” Jorge Benitez, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said in an interview. “Trump seems to be defining U.S. national interests that are competitive with our allies and yet cooperative with North Korea, cooperative with Russia, and cooperative with China. That doesn’t seem consistent.” — Katie Rogers

Mr. Trump kicked off his meetings on a defiant note, calling allies “delinquent” over their defense spending and attacking Germany as a “captive” of Russia because of its energy dealings.

“Many countries are not paying what they should, and, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back,” Mr. Trump said at a breakfast with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general, at the residence of the American ambassador to Belgium. “They’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them.”

He singled out Germany for particularly sharp criticism, saying the country was “totally controlled by Russia” because of its dependence on imported natural gas. The United States spends heavily to defend Germany from Russia, he said, and “Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.”

He criticized Berlin for giving approval for Gazprom, the Russian energy titan, to construct the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through its waters, a $10 billion project.

“Germany is a captive of Russia,” Mr. Trump said. “I think it’s something that NATO has to look at.” — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, offered a reminder that she learned firsthand what it means to be a “captive” nation. Modern Germany, she said, is not one.

“I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union,” she told reporters who asked about Mr. Trump’s comments as she entered the NATO leaders’ meeting. Now “united in freedom,” she said, Germans “can make our own policies and make our own decisions.”

In her typical polite-but-firm fashion, Ms. Merkel showed no sign of irritation at Mr. Trump’s remarks and did not say directly that he was wrong, but she made her position clear.

She noted that Germany was the second-largest provider of NATO troops, after the United States, and had thousands of troops supporting the American-led effort in Afghanistan.

“Germany does a lot for NATO,” she said, adding that, in the process, Germans “defend the interests of the United States.”

Mr. Trump, who is to meet with Mr. Putin next week, may have raised the issue of the natural gas pipeline to deflect accusations that he has been too cozy with the Russian president — charges bolstered by the continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Mr. Trump said that Germany’s leaders were too beholden to Russia.

“The former chancellor of Germany is the head of the pipeline company that’s supplying the gas,” Mr. Trump said, referring to Gerhard Schröder, who leads the Nord Stream 2 project. “So you tell me, is that appropriate?”

The pipeline is a delicate issue in Europe, where many people oppose it on security and environmental grounds.

Much of Europe relies on natural gas from Russia, which has cut off supplies to exert pressure on other countries.

The current pipelines pass through Ukraine, Belarus and Poland, but Nord Stream 2 would bypass those countries. That has raised fears that Russia could manipulate supplies to its East European neighbors while maintaining the flow to Western Europe. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

European leaders’ response to Mr. Trump’s comments was muted, but the reaction from top Democrats in Congress was emphatically not.

“President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California said in a joint statement.

Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi said the president’s posture at the NATO gathering had raised their level of concern about his coming meeting with Mr. Putin. They took the opportunity to lay out their standards for what would constitute a positive meeting with the Russian leader — namely, a halt to the kind of interference that some Democrats say helped to elect Mr. Trump. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

American presidents have long pressed their NATO counterparts to increase military spending. But Mr. Trump’s insistence that the other nations owe money misstates how the alliance works, and the figures he cites are misleading.

(Our reporters fact-checked the president’s claims on the financial relationship between the United States and other NATO countries.)

NATO has a budget to cover shared costs and some equipment used in joint operations, and all 29 member countries contribute to it. None of the allies has failed to pay its contribution.

Mr. Trump’s complaint is that, while NATO member countries have agreed to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic products on military spending, most do not. But none has violated that agreement, because the 2 percent figure is a target to be reached by 2024.

According to NATO, all members have significantly raised military spending since 2014, and eight are expected to meet the goal this year.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday that the United States accounted for 90 percent of military spending by NATO countries, but the alliance says the real figure is about 67 percent. And most American military spending is not NATO-related.

Even so, the organization says on its website, “There is an overreliance by the alliance as a whole on the United States for the provision of essential capabilities, including, for instance, in regard to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air refueling; ballistic missile defense; and airborne electronic warfare.”

— Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger

If Mr. Stoltenberg felt ambushed by Mr. Trump, he gave no sign of it, declining to get drawn into an argument with the president in front of a clutch of reporters.

Instead, the secretary general, a generally unflappable Norwegian, stuck to his mantra of recent days: NATO members are united on the principle of collective defense, whatever their disagreements.

(Steven Erlanger analyzed the European balancing act before the meeting.)

Rather than confronting Mr. Trump, Mr. Stoltenberg has repeatedly given nods to the president, praising his “direct language” and “plain-speaking,” and saying that “we all agree” that more military spending is needed.

He gamely stuck to his insistence that dissension does not undermine the alliance, even as Mr. Trump’s denigrations continued.

“I’m confident that despite discussions, disagreements, we will decide and we will deliver,” Mr. Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

Mr. Trump held brief private meetings with Chancellor Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron of France on the sidelines of the NATO summit meeting.

Ms. Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the president would use his session with Ms. Merkel to reiterate concerns about Germany’s energy dependence on Russia. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

If Mr. Trump was in a prickly mood as he entered the NATO meeting, his aides and wary allies found one source of comfort: no Twitter.

Cellphones are banned from the room where the 29 leaders are gathered, and NATO jams signals in the building to prevent eavesdropping and hacking. So people did not expect Mr. Trump to have access to his favorite medium for at least for a few hours.

Somehow, the president found a way to tweet.

As the opening meeting proceeded into a classified session on Wednesday, Mr. Trump sent out messages about the trade war he had escalated by imposing tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. He said he had acted on behalf of American agriculture.

He continued on Twitter that he would open things “better than ever before, but it can’t go too quickly. I am fighting for a level playing field for our farmers, and will win!”

It was not clear whether Mr. Trump violated the NATO meeting’s no-phone rule, or whether the tweet was sent by an aide outside the room. But one thing was certain: There is no keeping @realdonaldtrump from his followers. — Julie Hirschfeld Davis

NATO leaders are set to meet with their Ukrainian counterparts on Thursday to show solidarity with Kiev, after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, and in the face of Moscow’s continuing military support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.

The meeting is a pointed reminder from the West of the principle that one nation should not violate the territorial integrity of another. Talks on resolving the dispute in Ukraine have essentially stalled.

NATO leaders are also to meet with the leaders of Georgia on Thursday, in a similar show of support for Tbilisi against Russia, which has occupied parts of the country since 2008.

Ukraine and Georgia will be invited to discuss their progress in security and defense overhauls and their cooperation with NATO, but long-delayed plans to have them join the alliance remain suspended. — Steven Erlanger

The next leg of Mr. Trump’s trip will take him to Britain from Thursday through Sunday, where he will be greeted with pomp and protests. The president will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II, while thousands of people are expected to demonstrate against him.

Buckingham Palace has released a detailed agenda for the visit with the queen on Friday. She will welcome the Trumps at the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle, where an honor guard will perform the national anthem and give a royal salute. Then it’s on to tea.

The president will hopscotch across the London area by air, avoiding traffic, protests, and, yes, that giant, diapered-baby float. The U.S. Embassy has warned Americans in London to “keep a low profile” from Thursday until Saturday.

Mr. Trump plans to travel to Scotland on Saturday and to stay at one of his golf resorts, Trump Turnberry, before flying the next day to Helsinki. — Katie Rogers

Mr. Trump’s first summit meeting with the Russian president will be parsed for countless layers of meaning.

The West’s stance toward Russia is, as always, a central topic at the NATO meeting, and the United States’ European allies are worried that Mr. Trump aims to reduce the American security role in dealing with Moscow.

Russia is waging a proxy war against Ukraine, has forcibly annexed part of that country, has meddled in other nations’ elections, gives crucial support to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and stands accused of using a chemical weapon on British soil.

Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign is under investigation for links to Russia, and Mr. Trump, who is quick to aim a barb at almost anyone else, has been reluctant to criticize Mr. Putin. Yet he and his aides bristle at accusations that he is not tough enough with the Kremlin.

The meeting with Mr. Putin will be closely analyzed for signs that Mr. Trump is friendlier to his Russian counterpart than to the leaders he is meeting in Brussels.

Live Updates: Trump at the NATO Summit

Right Now: Trump to meet soon with NATO’s secretary general.

• President Trump is in Brussels for the start of a seven-day, three-nation European trip that highlights the ways he has utterly transformed United States foreign policy. The trip begins on Wednesday with the NATO summit meeting in Brussels.

• Mr. Trump will meet with NATO leaders after disparaging the alliance and some of its key members, particularly over military spending, as well as a broader web of international organizations and treaties disdained by the president.

• After the NATO summit meeting, the president will travel to Britain for a working visit, before wrapping up his trip on Monday in Helsinki, where he will meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

• Three New York Times reporters are covering Mr. Trump and the NATO meeting: Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Katie Rogers, White House correspondents, and Steven Erlanger, the chief European diplomatic correspondent.

NATO leaders are bracing for a contentious meeting, trying to figure out how to be polite but firm with a United States president who disparages multilateral alliances, and dispenses with the usual platitudes in favor of lashing out on Twitter.

Generations of United States policymakers have seen NATO as a bedrock of Western security, but Mr. Trump describes its members mostly as a bunch of freeloaders, riding on the coattails of American military spending without holding up their end of the deal.

“NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS,” Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday, before departing for Brussels. He also reiterated the claim he has used to justify tariffs he recently imposed: That unfair practices are to blame for the U.S. trade deficit with Europe and other regions of the world.

Where his predecessors have spoken warmly of the allies and warned of Russian aggression, Mr. Trump has had harsh words for NATO, which he has called “obsolete,” and member countries like Canada and Germany, while rarely criticizing Russia.

Privately, leaders of other NATO countries wonder if the president just wants to goad them into raising military spending and strengthen the alliance, or if he would prefer to abandon it. Either way, his approach, using overt threats and insults, is a far cry from the usual diplomatic give-and-take, and his counterparts are wary of provoking Mr. Trump.

Aside from military spending, NATO allies are more at odds with American policy than they have been many years, disagreeing on issues like his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accords, and the trade war he has started.

Other American presidents have lamented that the United States spends more than its fair share on Western defense, but Mr. Trump puts it more bluntly: The country, he says, is being cheated by its allies.

“I’m going to tell NATO, ‘You got to start paying your bills,’ ” he said last week in Montana. “The United States is not going to take care of everything. We are the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing.”

The imbalance is real, but the arguments Mr. Trump makes and the figures he cites are misleading. NATO members agreed in 2014 that each nation should spend at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on its military. Mr. Trump has accused others of failing to meet that commitment, and of owing NATO money as a result.

In fact, no one has failed to comply. The 2 percent figure is a target to be reached by 2024. According to NATO, all 29 member countries have significantly raised military spending since 2014, and eight of them are above or close to 2 percent.

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, credited Mr. Trump for recent increases in other nations’ spending, saying on Tuesday that the president’s pressure “is clearly having an impact.”

Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday that the United States accounts for 90 percent of military spending by NATO countries; NATO says the actual figure is 66.5 percent, and according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, less than one-quarter of that spending is for European security. — Steven Erlanger

Perhaps nowhere is European fear about American intentions more pronounced than in the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Long ruled by the Russian giant to the east, these small nations gained their independence in the early 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and they see a very real danger in Russia’s assertiveness under Mr. Putin.

The countries joined NATO in 2004 to ward off that threat, and the alliance has recently stationed troops in the Baltic States as a kind of tripwire for any Russian incursion.

But when asked two years ago, before he was elected, whether the United States would defend the Baltic countries against a Russian attack, Mr. Trump equivocated. “If they fulfill their obligations to us,” he said, “the answer is yes.”

There are significant ethnic Russian minorities in the Baltics, and people there are acutely aware that protecting Russians was the reason the Kremlin gave for its incursions into Ukraine.

With heads of state taking care not to poke Mr. Trump, Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has emerged as the continent’s most prominent and pointed critic of the president.

Mr. Tusk, one of the leaders of the European Union, has no formal role in NATO, but the two groups have a large overlap in membership. On Tuesday they signed a statement of cooperation.

Mr. Tusk has made clear that he is paying close attention to the summit, he has a megaphone, and he’s not afraid to use it. Tweaking and refuting Mr. Trump, often slyly and sometimes quite directly, his comments are widely seen to reflect what other European leaders are thinking but are unwilling to say publicly.

The United States “doesn’t have and won’t have a better ally than EU,” whose members combined spend more on defense than Russia, he tweeted on Wednesday. “I hope you have no doubt this is an investment in our security.”

In June, after Mr. Trump’s angry exit from the Group of 7 summit and his broadside at Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister who played host to that meeting, Mr. Tusk tweeted, “There is a special place in heaven for @JustinTrudeau.”

He used sharper language in May, after Mr. Trump withdrew from the Iran agreement and announced trade sanctions. Mr. Tusk tweeted, “with friends like that who needs enemies.”

Mr. Trump enjoys sending Twitter barbs at his adversaries, but he will be restrained during the NATO summit meeting.

In NATO’s new building, in the massive high-tech meeting room, no mobile phones are allowed — not even for a president. Even if they were permitted, they probably would not work, because NATO jams signals in the building to prevent eavesdropping or hacking.

So at least for the hours he is with other leaders, Mr. Trump will be under a cone of silence.

Mr. Trump will have to wait until he’s outside the NATO building to get to his Twitter account in order to reassure his many followers that he remains the @realdonaldtrump. — Steven Erlanger

When he visited the new NATO headquarters building last year, before it was fully opened, Mr. Trump made no secret of his distaste for the structure, which he deemed extravagantly expensive and vulnerable to bombing.

In delivering a speech at the time, he skipped the part of his prepared remarks that called for him to reaffirm Article 5, the commitment by all member nations to mutual defense. He has endorsed the principle, albeit grudgingly.

When Mr. Trump returns this year, he will enter the building after passing two monuments designed to highlight NATO history — a chunk of the Berlin Wall and a chunk of the World Trade Center. After the 2001 attack on the trade center, NATO invoked Article 5 for the only time in its history.

Outside the building are the words “WE ARE ALLIES,” shimmering in two-foot yellow and white letters on fences, and the famous NATO sculpture of a compass flanked by the flags of the 29 members. NATO intends to offer the soon-to-be-named Republic of North Macedonia talks to become the 30th member, once the change is ratified by the parliaments of both Greece and what has until recently been called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The new building itself is airy and light, with much modernized communications equipment, although the offices are smaller than in the old building across the way. The main meeting room, where the 29 leaders will meet, with room for many aides behind them, is large and even elegant, with wooden walls and various video screens for classified conferences.

But on a recent visit, allowed to enter the room but not take any photographs, it seemed to me the only thing missing was Peter Sellers in the film “Dr. Strangelove.” — Steven Erlanger

Military spending and NATO’s stance toward Russia will be central topics at the summit meetings, at a time when leaders of other Western countries worry about a reduced American security role in dealing with Moscow.

Russia is waging a proxy war against Ukraine, has forcibly annexed part of that country, has meddled in other nations’ elections, gives crucial support to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and stands accused of using a chemical weapon on British soil.

After the NATO meeting, Mr. Trump will travel on Thursday to Britain, where he is scheduled to meet with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May. He will spend little time in London, where thousands of people are expected to attend protests against the president, who is not popular in Britain. The American Embassy warned U.S. citizens to “keep a low profile” during his visit because of the protests.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump will travel to Scotland and stay at one of his golf resorts, Trump Turnberry. The next day, he will fly to Helsinki, before his meeting on Monday with Mr. Putin.

With Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign under investigation for links to Russia, and American relations with traditional allies strained, analysts will keep a close eye on whether a friendlier mood prevails when the two presidents meet.

Starbucks’s ‘full-scale racial equity overhaul’ will take more than an afternoon, outside review says

One month after Starbucks closed 8,000 stores for racial-bias training for 175,000 employees, two of the curriculum’s advisers laid out a new set of recommendations for how one of the world’s most dominant companies can further address diversity, equity and inclusion.

In a report published Monday, Heather McGhee, distinguished senior fellow of the public policy organization Demos, and Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-council of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, outlined how Starbucks and other companies could achieve a “full-scale racial equity overhaul.” While McGhee and Ifill served as pro bono advisers on Starbucks’s May 29 training, they conducted the report independently and in consultation with dozens of organizations and experts, from racial and religious groups to legal and policy centers.

“It’s really important that we wrote this report with an audience of Starbucks, but also with an audience of other corporations that might want to take steps to address racism in their company,” McGhee said. “Because not everybody is going to have 40 conversations, and we wanted to make sure that this broader audience understood what some of the key principles are in designing a training like that.”

McGhee and Ifill wrote that in the weeks leading up to the training, Starbucks would have to — and did — make clear to employees that the May 29 training marked the start of a long-term, companywide commitment to diversity and inclusion. Moreover, McGhee and Ifill wrote that the April arrests of Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson had to be framed within the broader context of the historical discrimination against black people in public spaces.

[Starbucks arrests: Who gets to decide whether you’re a patron or a trespasser?]

The report also acknowledged swift changes to Starbucks’s policy in the wake of the arrests in Philadelphia, including that customers didn’t have to make a purchase to sit in stores or use the restroom, as well as new guidelines for when employees should call 911. Starbucks also announced 12 additional months of training for managers and employees.

Still, McGhee and Ifill noted that “there is a drawback to the speed with which the company has developed the plan of action” and recommended that Starbucks spend time identifying which specific practices employees should develop in future trainings.

McGhee told The Washington Post that other incidents at Starbucks stores, including an anti-Latino slur written on a customer’s cup, “in some ways provided enough evidence that there was a problem.”

“You have to take a racial-equity lens to all parts of the business, and that’s a science,” McGhee said. “That involves data and assessments and monitoring and evaluation, and most importantly goal setting. So if they don’t know exactly what the dimensions are of bias and inequity in the corporation’s culture, then how can they develop training to address that?”

Asked specifically about Starbucks’s pace in crafting future trainings, Alisha Damodaran, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said the company appreciated the report’s acknowledgment that Starbucks acted quickly after the arrests “and with an unequivocal commitment to address bias and discrimination.” She said the content for future training is being designed with input from experts and feedback from employees after May 29.

[Starbucks’s racial-bias training has another goal]

“We also agree with the importance of being deliberate and will consider carefully all of the inputs we have received and continue to receive as we determine how to take next steps,” Damodaran said.

The report laid out detailed recommendations for Starbucks’s long-term initiatives, including a broad civil rights audit of company policies and practices, from racial diversity at all staff levels to contractors throughout the supply chain. The report also included recommendations from Nelson and Robinson to, among other steps, create a customer bill of rights that would be posted at the entrance of all stores.

Nelson and Robinson called on Starbucks to adopt the recommendations in McGhee and Ifill’s report and “to undertake a comprehensive overhaul of its business practices.” In consultation with their attorneys, Nelson and Robinson worked with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to craft their own recommendations for Starbucks, which included sponsoring an SAT and college prep program for public school students in Philadelphia and developing a internal complaint process to investigate customer complaints of discrimination.

“What happened to us shouldn’t happen to anyone,” Robinson said. “While we cannot change the events of April 12, we are committed to doing what we can to increase opportunities in our community and to prevent other African Americans from being profiled at Starbucks or any other business. This report is an important first step.”

McGhee and Ifill called on Starbucks to apply its “third place” policy to communities nationwide, including by considering the effects stores have on gentrification and policing. The report noted a 2015 Zillow study that found that Starbucks stores contributed to an increase in local home prices. The report also tied gentrification and displacement to how police respond to changing neighborhood demographics, especially in communities of color.

The report recommended Starbucks work with experts on fair policing to learn more about discriminatory policing and engage with local community groups to discuss the relationships between those communities and the police.

[What Starbucks could learn from this Washington restaurateur about race at work]

Also on Monday, Starbucks published a news release on lessons from the May 29 training and what is still to come. The release said that the first of the new monthly trainings will debut later this summer and focus on understanding the effects of discrimination and making decisions to confront bias. Stores will not close for future training, but employees will be encouraged and expected to complete them. Six of the training sessions will target managers and above, and six will apply to all employees.

Before and after May 29, Starbucks surveyed employees on racism and other issues and will use the responses from 9,000 baristas, shift supervisors and store managers to craft its long-term plans. The company is also planning a conference for more than 15,000 store managers next year to discuss bias and how to be more inclusive.

“It’s not solely diversity training,” said Roz Brewer, Starbucks’s chief operating officer, in the release. “We’re addressing issues around leadership. We’re offering new tools.”

Trump stands firm on trade, even as foreign tariffs begin kicking in

President Trump defiantly stood by his tariffs on Sunday as Canada hit back hard, Mexico elected a new leader who seems prepared to confront him, and the European Union issued a scathing condemnation of his policy as “in effect, a tax on the American people.”

Instead of backing down, Trump brushed off the mounting pressure from businesses and world leaders to scale back the taxes before they cause additional job losses and slower economic growth.

This week will be a critical test of Trump’s resolve as Canada on Sunday imposed tariffs on $12.6 billion of U.S. products and China is set to levy high tariffs on $34 billion worth of American goods, including soybeans, on Friday, the same day that Trump plans to tax an additional $34 billion worth of Chinese items.

The additional taxes make it harder for U.S. companies and farmers to sell some items abroad, and they raise costs on many products used in U.S. manufacturing. But Trump shrugged off fears that the tariffs will hurt the economy.

“Every country is calling every day, saying, ‘Let’s make a deal, let’s make a deal.’ It’s going to all work out,” Trump said Sunday, echoing his remarks earlier in the year that trade wars are “easy to win.”

Despite Trump’s rhetoric, concerns are growing that Trump’s appetite for tariffs only appears to be expanding as trade tensions escalate. Many who argued that Trump was just threatening tariffs as a negotiating tactic and would never let the skirmish intensify are now saying they may have miscalculated.

Trump said in an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that the European Union is just as bad as China on trade and that he didn’t intend to sign a new North American Free Trade Agreement deal until after the midterm elections in November.

“The European Union is possibly as bad as China, just smaller,” Trump said Sunday, pointing to the “car situation.”

The E.U. sent Trump’s Commerce Department an 11-page document on Friday threatening that the global community would put tariffs on up to $290 billion of U.S. products if Trump moves forward with tariffs on foreign autos, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

“Protective measures would undermine U.S. growth, negatively impact job creation, and not improve the trade balance,” E.U. leaders wrote, adding that auto tariffs would “damage further the reputation of the United States.”

Trump is now engaged in trade fights with most of the world’s major economies, including China, the European Union and Japan. Although Trump speaks periodically with leaders from these nations, formal trade talks have stalled with most of them as the two sides remain far apart and foreign countries say Trump’s wishes are unclear.

“NAFTA, I could sign it tomorrow, but I’m not happy with it. I want to make it more fair, okay?” Trump said, adding that “I want to wait until after the election” to sign it.

The election of leftist leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of Mexico is likely to decrease prospects for signing a revised NAFTA by the end of the year. Many foreign leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, are getting overwhelming support at home for standing up to Trump, making quick deals even less likely.

“This is a really dangerous path we’re going down,” said Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Warning Trump doesn’t seem to be enough. It may actually take the costs of these things to show up before he can be convinced of it.”

Iconic American brands such as Harley-Davidson, General Motors and Polaris have warned in recent days that they intend to move production overseas and potentially lay off workers if Trump doesn’t end the tariffs. Harley has already made the decision to shift some production abroad, which led to multiple angry tweets from the president.

The pressure on Trump is increasing as the negative effects many have warned him about are starting to be realized. The largest nail manufacturer in the United States, Mid-Continent Nail, has laid off 60 workers and said it might be out of business by Labor Day.

“If the trade rhetoric and uncertainty continues, it will be very, very bad for the market and for the midterm election and other elements of the president’s strategy,” said Anthony Scaramucci, a longtime investor and close ally of the president’s. “There’s been a seismic change in psychology in the markets in the last four to six weeks.”

But Trump has shown few signs of pulling back, saying last week that the tariffs have been “incredible” and are “doing great.” Instead, he is calling for additional tariffs on China and on imported cars, a move that would hurt Europe, Japan and South Korea.

Trump asked his staff to prepare a bill that would give him the ability to skirt many World Trade Organization rules that have been in place since 1995 and helped lower tariffs and protect trade, according to a report by Axios.

Congress is unlikely to pass the legislation — or even consider it — because it would give even more authority to the president on trade matters, but the draft legislation is another indication of how Trump is ready to blow up the global economic framework that past U.S. presidents of both parties spent years building.

Trump is especially upset at how the WTO treats China, according to a person familiar with the president’s thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly. Despite being the world’s second-largest economy, China is still considered a developing nation in the eyes of the WTO, which allows China to have higher trade barriers than developed countries.

Trump has fairly widespread support for pushing China on trade concessions. But his tariffs on steel and aluminum from U.S. allies and potentially on autos are backed mainly by parts of the manufacturing sector that argue they have been put at a disadvantage for years. Supporters of the tariffs contend that any short-term pain will be worth it in the end and that the impact so far is small.

“I view this as a step in the process to get better agreements,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. “We have an economy doing well, very low unemployment, manufacturing indicators that continue to be quite positive. The size and scope of tariffs is quite limited when you consider we have a $19 trillion economy.”

At the moment, the United States has imposed tariffs on about $42 billion worth of imports, and foreign nations have retaliated at about the same level. Those figures will jump significantly as Trump and China impose more tariffs on each other, and it would escalate by hundreds of billions if Trump goes forward with import taxes on cars.

General Motors warned Friday that Trump’s tariffs and the retaliation from other nations would force GM to cut jobs and put it at a disadvantage against foreign competitors. But Trump argued that the only consequence would be that more cars would be built in the United States.

“What’s going to really happen is there’s going to be no tax. You know why? They’re going to build their cars in America. They’re going to make them here,” Trump said.

Some experts now think the only way Trump will change his approach is if there’s a major drop in the stock market or economy.

“It will probably take a significant pullback in the stock market to get Trump to back down,” said Scott Lincicome, a trade lawyer and adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. “The Dow and S&P 500 have leveled off, but they are still pretty high since the election, something Trump is proud of.”