Heathrow Airport has had a subway link for decades. When the Elizabeth line’s next phase is opened in the fall, passengers will be able to travel from Heathrow to the banks at Canary Wharf in East London in 40 minutes; that is a prime selling point for a city desperate to hold on to its status as financial mecca after Brexit. All told, the line has 10 entirely new stations, 42 miles of tunnels and crosses under the Thames three times.

“We’re jealous, it’s fair to say,” said Danny Pearlstein, the policy director for Riders Alliance, a transportation advocacy group in New York. “Imagining a new, full-length underground line here is not something anyone is doing. The Second Avenue subway, which people have been talking about for 100 years, has three stations.”

To be fair, Transport for London is not without its problems. It has shelved plans to build a north-south counterpart to the Elizabeth line, not to mention an extension to the Bakerloo tube line, because of a lack of funding. Still reeling from a near-total loss of riders during pandemic lockdowns, the system faces many of the same financial woes as New York’s subway.

Though ridership has recovered from a nadir of 5 percent, it is still at only 70 percent of prepandemic levels. Transport for London is also heavily dependent on ticket fares to cover its costs, more so than the New York subway, which gets state subsidies, as well as funds from bridge and tunnel tolls.

“My other obsession is sorting out the finances,” Mr. Byford said. “One way is to wean us away from dependence on fares.”

He is somewhat vague about how to do that, and it is clear that Transport for London will depend on additional government handouts to get back on sound financial footing. That is why the opening of the Elizabeth line is so important to London: It makes a powerful case for public transportation at a time when people are questioning how many workers will ever return to their offices.

Mr. Byford lays out the case with the practiced cadence of a stump speech. The new line will increase the capacity of the system by 10 percent. Its spacious coaches are well suited to a world in which people are used to social distancing. It will revitalize economically blighted towns east of the city, while making central London accessible to people who live in far-flung towns to the east and west.

While Mr. Byford does not expect ridership ever to return completely, he thinks 90 percent is attainable. If office buildings remain underpopulated, London could develop like Paris, with more residential neighborhoods downtown. (The Elizabeth line bears a distinct resemblance to the high-speed RER system in Paris.) The line, he says, is an insurance policy against the “siren voices of doom” about Brexit.

At times, Mr. Byford slips perilously close to a real estate agent’s patter. “These super-high-tech stations simply ooze quality,” he said. But emerging from Liverpool Street, with its spectacular, rippling, pinstriped ceiling, it is hard to argue with his basic assertion: “This is a game changer.”

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Ukraine Live Updates: Finland’s Move to Join NATO Upends Putin’s War Aims

BRUSSELS — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has said stopping NATO’s expansion helped drive him to invade Ukraine. But on Thursday, Finland declared its unequivocal intention to join, not only upending Mr. Putin’s plan but placing the alliance’s newest prospective member on Russia’s northern doorstep.

The declaration by Finland’s leaders that they will join NATO — with expectations that neighboring Sweden would soon do the same — could now reshape a strategic balance in Europe that has prevailed for decades. It is the latest example of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 11 weeks ago has backfired on Mr. Putin’s intentions.

Russia reacted angrily, with Mr. Putin’s chief spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, saying the addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO would not make Europe safer. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, appeared to go further, saying in an interview with a British news site he posted on Twitter that as NATO members, the two Nordic countries “become part of the enemy and they bear all the risks.”

Finland, long known for such implacable nonalignment that “Finlandization” became synonymous with neutrality, had been signaling that Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine was giving the Finns a reason to join NATO. But Thursday was the first time Finland’s leaders said publicly they definitely intended to join, making it all but certain that Russia would share an 810-mile border with a NATO country.

The addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO carries significant risks of elevating prospects of war between Russia and the West, under the alliance’s underlying principle that an attack on one is an attack on all.

Credit…Alessandro Rampazzo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

But the Finnish leaders, President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, said that “NATO membership would strengthen Finland’s security,’’ adding that “as a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance.”

Mr. Putin has offered a range of reasons for his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but it was intended in part to block the eastern expansion of NATO and was premised on what he apparently had assumed would be a fractious European response. Instead, the invasion has united the West and helped to isolate Moscow.

With the likely redrawing of Europe’s security borders, Western officials also moved to reshape Europe’s economic infrastructure by taking steps to establish new transport routes from Ukraine, which is under a Russian naval embargo. Russia, meanwhile, found itself further ostracized from the global economy, as Siemens, the German electronics giant, became the latest company to pull out of Russia, exiting after 170 years of doing business there.

The European Union announced a set of measures on Thursday to facilitate Ukraine’s exports of blocked food products, mainly grain and oilseeds, in a bid to alleviate the war’s strain on the Ukrainian economy and avert a looming global food shortage.

The Russian navy has blocked exports by Ukraine — a major global supplier of wheat, corn and sunflower oil before the invasion — at the country’s Black Sea ports. The long-term goal of the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, is to establish new transport routes from Ukraine into Europe, circumventing the Russian blockade by using Polish ports — although creating new routes could take months, if not years.

Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

On the ground in Ukraine, where the Russian invaders are still facing strong resistance from Western-armed Ukrainian forces and the prospect of a prolonged war, the Kremlin redeployed troops to strengthen its territorial gains in the Donbas, the eastern region where the fighting has been fiercest.

Ukrainian and Western officials say that Russia is withdrawing forces from around Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, where it has been losing territory — a pullback that Britain’s Defense Ministry on Thursday described as “a tacit recognition of Russia’s inability to capture key Ukrainian cities where they expected limited resistance from the population.”

By contrast in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which together comprise the Donbas, the Russians now control about 80 percent of the territory. In Luhansk, where Russian shelling rarely relents, “the situation has deteriorated significantly” in recent days, according to the regional governor, Serhiy Haidai.

“The Russians are destroying everything in their path,” Mr. Haidai said on Thursday in a post on Telegram. “The vast majority of critical infrastructure will have to be rebuilt,” he said, adding that there is no electricity, water, gas or cellphone connection in the region, where most residents have fled.

Russia’s withdrawal from Kharkiv represents of one of the bigger setbacks Moscow has confronted since its retreat from areas near Kyiv, the capital — where the costs of Russian occupation became clearer on Thursday.

The bodies of more than 1,000 civilians have been recovered in areas north of Kyiv that were occupied by Russian forces, the United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said on Thursday. They included several hundred who were summarily executed and others who were shot by snipers, Ms. Bachelet said.

Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

“The figures will continue to increase,” Ms. Bachelet told a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the second in two weeks, focusing on abuses uncovered by investigators in Bucha, Irpin and other suburbs of Kyiv that were seized by Russia’s forces in the invasion’s early stages. Russia has denied committing any atrocities in Ukraine.

The announcement by Finland’s leaders to apply for membership in NATO had been widely expected. Public opinion in Finland has shifted significantly in favor of joining the alliance, from 20 percent six months ago to nearly 80 percent now, especially if Sweden, Finland’s strategic partner and also militarily nonaligned, joins as well.

“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” the Finnish leaders said in a statement. “We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”

A parliamentary debate and vote were expected on Monday.

The debate in Sweden is less advanced than in Finland, but Sweden, too, is moving toward applying to join NATO, perhaps as early as next week.

Mr. Putin has cited NATO’s spread eastward into Russia’s sphere of influence, including to former Soviet states on its borders, as a national threat. He has used Ukraine’s desire to join the alliance to help justify his invasion of that country, though Western officials have repeatedly said that the possibility of Ukrainian membership remains remote.

One reason is that NATO would be highly unlikely to offer membership to a country entangled in a war.

Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

If Ukraine were to become a NATO member, the alliance would be obligated to defend it against Russia and other adversaries, in keeping with the application of NATO’s Article 5 that an attack on one member is an attack on the entire alliance.

Even without the geopolitical risks, Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that has struggled with endemic corruption since gaining independence, would find it difficult to meet several necessary requirements to join NATO, including the need to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law.

Sweden and Finland, in contrast, have developed over decades into vibrant and healthy liberal democracies.

Still, NATO members would have to act if Finland and Sweden were attacked by Russia or others, raising the risks of a direct confrontation between nuclear powers.

Mr. Putin was likely to try to rally support for the Ukraine invasion by portraying the moves by Finland and Sweden as fresh evidence that NATO is growing increasingly hostile.

If Finland and Sweden apply, they are widely expected to be approved, although NATO officials are publicly discreet, saying only that the alliance has an open-door policy and any country that wishes to join can request an invitation. Still, even a speedy application process could take a year, raising concerns that the two countries would be vulnerable to Russia while outside the alliance.

Besides a long border, Finland shares a complicated, violent history with Russia. The Finns fended off a Soviet invasion in 1939-40 in what is known as “The Winter War.”

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

The Finns eventually lost, gave up some territory and agreed to remain formally neutral throughout the Cold War, but their ability to temporarily hold off the Soviet Union became a central point of Finnish pride.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Finland moved to join the European Union in 1992, becoming a member in 1995, while remaining militarily nonaligned and keeping working relations with Moscow.

Finland has maintained its military spending and sizable armed forces. Finland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program along with Sweden in 1994 and has become ever closer to the alliance without joining it.

Steven Erlanger reported from Brussels, and Norimitsu Onishi from Paris. Reporting was contributed by Cora Engelbrecht from London, Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva, Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia, Monika Pronczuk from Brussels, and Dan Bilefsky from Montreal.

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Ukraine Live Updates: War’s Economic Toll Tests Western Unity

LONDON — The West united against Russia’s war on Ukraine more swiftly and solidly than almost anyone had expected. But as the war settles into a prolonged conflict, one that could rumble on for months or even years, it is testing the resolve of Western countries, with European and American officials questioning whether the rising economic toll will erode their solidarity over time.

So far, the fissures are mostly superficial: Hungary’s refusal to sign on to an embargo of Russian oil, thwarting the European Union’s effort to impose a continentwide ban; restiveness in Paris with the Biden administration’s aggressive goal of militarily weakening the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin; a beleaguered President Biden blaming sky-high food and gas prices on a Putin price hike.

Alongside those tensions, there are further signs of solidarity: Finland and Sweden on Wednesday edged closer to joining NATO, with Britain offering both countries security assurances to gird against the Russian threat. In Washington, the House voted 368 to 57 on Tuesday in favor of a nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine.

Yet Russia’s tanks rolled across the Ukrainian frontier just 76 days ago, the blink of an eye in the scheme of history’s forever wars. As the fighting grinds on, the cascading effect on supply chains, energy pipelines and agricultural harvests will be felt more acutely at gas pumps and on supermarket shelves.

Mr. Putin, some experts say, is calculating that the West will tire before Russia does of a long twilight struggle for Ukraine’s contested Donbas region, especially if the price for the West’s continued support is turbocharged inflation rates, energy disruptions, depleted public finances and fatigued populations.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

The Biden administration’s director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, crystallized those doubts on Tuesday, warning senators that Mr. Putin was digging in for a long siege and “probably counting on U.S. and E.U. resolve to weaken as food shortages, inflation and energy shortages get worse.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden traveled to a farm in Kankakee, Ill., to make the case that Mr. Putin’s war was to blame for food shortages and the cost-of-living squeeze on American families, a tacit sign that his steadfast support for Ukraine — a policy that has won bipartisan support in Washington — could carry a political cost.

Mr. Putin faces his own domestic pressures, which were evident in the calibrated tone he struck during a speech in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday, neither calling for a mass mobilization nor threatening to escalate the conflict. But he also made clear that there was no end in sight for what he falsely called Russia’s campaign to rid its neighbor of “torturers, death squads and Nazis.”

On the ground in Ukraine, the fighting shows signs of becoming a protracted battle. A day after Ukraine’s counteroffensive unseated Russian forces from a cluster of towns northeast of the city of Kharkiv, the region’s governor said on Wednesday that the Ukrainian efforts had driven Moscow’s forces “even further” from the city, giving them “even less opportunity to fire on the regional center.”

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Ukraine’s apparent success at pushing back Russian troops outside Kharkiv — its second largest city, about 20 miles from the Russian border — appears to have contributed to reduced shelling there in recent days, even as Russia makes advances along parts of the front line in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

That Ukraine would even find itself in an ongoing pitched battle, nearly three months after Russia launched a full-scale invasion, is remarkable. Analysts pointed out that a prolonged war would stretch the resources of a Russian military that has already suffered heavy losses of men and machinery. Given that, some argue that the West should press its advantage by tightening the economic chokehold on Moscow.

“I worry about Western fatigue,” said Michael A. McFaul, a former American ambassador to Russia, “which is why the leaders of the free world should do more now to hasten the end of the war.”

The United States and the European Union, he said, should impose a full range of crippling sanctions immediately, rather than rolling them out in escalating waves, as they have so far. Western countries had come close to such an all-in strategy with military aid, he said, which had helped the Ukrainians hold off the Russians.

Credit…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

But the halting negotiations on a European oil embargo show the limits of that approach when it comes to Russian energy supplies. European Union ambassadors held another fruitless meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, failing to break the fierce resistance of a single member of the bloc, Hungary.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, who has a warm relationship with Mr. Putin and has been at odds with Brussels, threw hopes for a show of unity into disarray when he blocked the latest measure, arguing that a ban on Russian oil would be the equivalent of an “atomic bomb” for the Hungarian economy.

Mr. Orban has continued to resist, even after concessions that would give Hungary more time to wean itself off Russian oil and intense lobbying by other leaders. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, flew to Budapest to try to sway him while President Emmanuel Macron telephoned him.

“We will only support this proposal if Brussels proposes a solution for the problem that Brussels created,” Hungary’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said, adding that modernizing Hungary’s energy sector would cost “many, many billions of euros.”

In Washington, Mr. Biden has encountered less trouble rounding up support for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The House vote in favor of a massive aid package showed how the war’s brutality had overcome resistance from both the right and left to American involvement in military conflicts overseas.

And yet rising food and fuel prices, which are aggravated by the war, pose a genuine threat to Mr. Biden. The price of food rose 0.9 percent in April from the previous month, according to data released on Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said the administration was “terribly concerned about global food supplies,” adding that 275 million people around the world face starvation.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Putin’s war has cut off critical sources of food,” Mr. Biden said to farmers in Illinois. “Our farmers are helping on both fronts, reducing the price of food at home and expanding production and feeding the world in need.”

It remains to be seen whether the United States can increase agricultural production enough to ease the shortages. But the visit to a farm came as Mr. Biden, under pressure over the fastest pace of inflation in 40 years, tried to reassure Americans that the White House is taking price increases seriously.

While Mr. Putin faces arguably much greater pressures — from swelling combat casualties to the economic pain caused by sanctions — he is exploiting nationalist feelings, which some analysts note will give him staying power.

The Kremlin signaled on Wednesday that it could annex the strategically important southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, as the occupying authorities said they would prepare a formal request to Mr. Putin to absorb their region into Russia.

“They are motived by powerful nationalism,” said Francis Fukuyama, a political scientist at Stanford University, “for which they are willing to undergo extraordinary economic damage.” Still, he added, the West’s muscular response could be “a moment of turnaround in the self-confidence of democracies.”

Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

For some Europeans, the United States might be going too far. French diplomats with ties to Mr. Macron described the evolving American policy as essentially arming Ukraine to the hilt and maintaining sanctions on Russia indefinitely. France, they said, wants to push hard for negotiations with Mr. Putin because there was no other path to lasting European security.

Other analysts argue that the threats to Western unity are overdone. The moves by Finland and Sweden to join NATO suggest not only that the alliance is pulling together but also that its center of gravity is shifting eastward.

Even before he invaded Ukraine, Mr. Putin warned those countries that they would face “retaliation” if they joined NATO. On a visit to Stockholm, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that the mutual security declaration Britain signed with Sweden — under which both countries pledged come to each other’s aid if they face a military threat or natural disaster — would counter that threat.

“Sovereign nations must be free to make those decisions without fear or influence or threat of retaliation,” Mr. Johnson said, alongside Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden. The declaration “will allow us to share more intelligence, bolster our military exercises and further our joint development of technology,” he said.

Credit…Pool photo by Frank Augstein

Despite Germany’s ambivalence about cutting off Russian gas, it seems highly unlikely to reverse course from its landmark commitment to increase military spending. On Wednesday, Germany started training the first class of Ukrainian gun crews on the use of self-propelled howitzers in western Germany. The German military plans to donate seven of the heavy weapons to Ukraine.

“The Russians, because of their barbarity, keep on generating images and news that will help the cause of Western unity,” said Eliot A. Cohen, a political scientist who served in the State Department during the George W. Bush administration. “If the Ukrainians continue to succeed, I think people will cheer them on.”

Reporting was contributed by Matina Stevis-Gridneff from Brussels, Roger Cohen from Paris, Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Cora Engelbrecht from London, Ana Swanson and Alan Rappeport from Washington, Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Christopher F. Schuetze from Berlin.

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Ukraine Live Updates: War’s Effects Widen as Russia Vows More Reprisals

BRUSSELS — Reverberations from the Ukraine war widened on Wednesday, jolting energy markets and spilling across borders, as Russia responded to the West’s escalating arms shipments and economic penalties by halting gas supplies to two European nations and threatening further unspecified retaliation.

The European Union’s top official described as “blackmail” the announcement that Russia was suspending shipments of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria. Though the immediate impact was likely to be limited, the cutoff was the Kremlin’s toughest retaliation yet against a U.S.-led alliance that President Vladimir V. Putin has accused of waging a proxy war aimed at weakening Russia.

Even as news of a U.S.-Russia prisoner exchange offered a glimmer of hope for diplomatic engagement, Mr. Putin warned that he would order more “counterstrikes” against any adversaries that “create threats of a strategic nature unacceptable to Russia.”

At the same time, a series of explosions across Ukraine’s borders stoked fears that the war, now in its third month, might spread. Blasts were reported in three Russian districts on Wednesday morning, and suspicion fell on Ukrainian forces, which are benefiting from increasingly sophisticated weapons and intelligence from the United States and its allies.

Those blasts came a day after explosions shook Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, on Ukraine’s southwestern flank. Some analysts — and Ukrainian and Moldovan officials — said it was likely that Russia, which has thousands of troops in Transnistria, had orchestrated the explosions to create a pretext to invade Ukraine from that direction.

Taken together, the developments raised the risk of worse to come.

“What’s the ‘so what’ of this escalatory cycle? Further escalation becomes more likely as animosity builds,” said Cliff Kupchan, chairman of the Eurasia Group, a political risk consulting organization. “The chance that Russia hits a staging facility in Poland goes up. The risk that NATO supplies aircraft to Ukraine goes up. Ukraine could strike bigger targets in Russia. Moscow could cut gas to more European nations.”

Economists warned that Europe could face a sharp slowdown of growth if the cutoff of sales by Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas company, spreads — or if Europe imposes an embargo on Russian gas. European natural gas prices surged as much as 28 percent on Wednesday and the euro’s value fell below $1.06 for the first time in five years on rising concerns about energy security and a slowdown in European growth. The currency has fallen nearly 4 percent against the U.S. dollar in April alone.

Gazprom’s stated reason for halting gas deliveries was the refusal by Poland and Bulgaria to pay in rubles, a new requirement Russia announced last month, despite the fact that its foreign contracts generally call for payment in dollars or euros. Most European buyers have not complied, which would subvert European Union financial sanctions imposed on Russia after the Ukraine invasion and help prop up the battered ruble.

The European Union had been preparing for the possibility that Russia might halt natural gas deliveries, said Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president. Nonetheless, she told a news conference, the Russian move was an attempt “to use gas as an instrument of blackmail.”

Poland and Bulgaria will quickly receive gas supplies from neighboring E.U. countries to compensate for the loss of Russian gas, she said, declaring that “the era of Russian fossil fuels in Europe is coming to an end.”

Both Poland and Bulgaria said the Russian cutoff would have little impact. In Poland, where electricity is largely generated with coal, not gas, the government sought to assuage any public fears. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki assured Poles that gas storage tanks were three-quarters full — much higher than in other countries.

And if the Kremlin’s plan was to intimidate Poland and Bulgaria with a future of unheated homes and cold meals in the hope of fracturing Western unity to aid Ukraine, it may have miscalculated. On a sunny spring day in Warsaw, the Polish capital, many people reacted with shrugs to the news — mixed with disbelief that anyone would ever view Russia as a trustworthy supplier.

“We have nothing to worry about if the weather stays like this,” said Joanna Gres, a ballet dancer with a troupe attached to the Polish military.

Bulgaria, too, has sufficient gas supplies for the next month, Alexander Nikolov, the energy minister, told Bulgarian news media, vowing that the country would “not negotiate under pressure and with its head bowed. ”

A top German official said the flow of Russian gas to Germany, Russia’s biggest energy customer, remained steady, while adding that the country could live off existing reserves until at least next winter.

Russia announced the cutoff a day after 40 U.S.-led allies met at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany and pledged to provide Ukraine with long-term military aid, following a weekend visit to the country by top Biden administration officials who said they want to see Russia not only defeated but degraded militarily.

That toughened American message is viewed by Mr. Putin and his subordinates as validation of their argument that the Ukraine war is really about the American desire to weaken Russia, and they are indirectly at war with NATO.

Despite fears of a broadened war, there was also a small measure of cooperation on Wednesday between Russia and the United States, which announced a prisoner swap.

They confirmed that Trevor R. Reed, a former Marine convicted on charges that his family said were bogus, had been freed, an unexpected diplomatic success. Mr. Reed, first detained in 2019, was released in exchange for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot sentenced to a lengthy term in the United States on cocaine-trafficking charges.

Credit…Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

Other Americans remain in detention in Russia, including Paul Whelan, who was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison on espionage charges during a trial that was closed to the public; and Brittney Griner, a basketball star arrested in mid-February on drug charges that could carry a sentence of up to 10 years.

Neither the American nor Russian sides gave any indication that the exchange signaled a broader diplomatic effort to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis.

Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

Ukraine appeared to have attempted to strike deeper into Russian territory overnight, although officials on both sides were vague about the details. Three local governors described drone flights and explosions as attacks.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a close adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, also described the explosions inside Russia as attacks on sites that Russia had used to launch the invasion, but he attributed them to “karma” — not the Ukrainian military.

As described by the three Russian governors and Russian media, an ammunition depot was set afire near Belgorod, a city less than 20 miles from the border, two explosions were reported in Voronezh, nearly 200 miles from the border, and a Ukrainian drone was shot down over Kursk, about 70 miles from the border. If Ukraine was responsible, the attacks in Kursk and Voronezh would be the deepest inside Russia since the Feb. 24 invasion.

In Moscow, Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary for Mr. Putin’s security council, urged Russian officials across a wide swath of the southwestern region near Ukraine to ensure emergency alerts and civil defense facilities were “working reliably.”

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has generally declined to discuss reports of attacks on Russian soil. Ukrainian officials have, for example, declined to comment on Russia’s claim that two Ukrainian helicopters fired on an oil depot in Belgorod in early April. In more than two months of war, the fighting has largely been contained within Ukraine’s borders.

Over the past few weeks Russian forces have concentrated on a full-scale assault in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, where analysts say Russia is making slow and measured advances on the ground as it confronts entrenched Ukrainian troops.

The pace of Russia’s ground assault appears more planned and deliberate than the initial invasion in February, which aimed at seizing more Ukrainian territory and depended on swift advances of tanks ­— a strategy that failed, at great cost to Russian forces.

Credit…Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Military analysts with the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington research group, said in their Tuesday assessment that Russian forces had “adopted a sounder pattern of operational movement in eastern Ukraine,” which is allowing them to “bring more combat power to bear” in their narrower goal of capturing just the eastern region.

Ukrainian troops have been defending positions in Donbas region since 2014, when secessionists there, backed by Russia, declared themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic.

Matina Stevis-Gridneff reported from Brussels, Neil MacFarquhar from Istanbul, and Shashank Bengali and Megan Specia from London. Reporting was contributed by Andrew Higgins from Warsaw, Ivan Nechepurenko from Tbilisi, Georgia, Cora Engelbrechtfrom Krakow, Poland, Liz Aldermanfrom Paris, Jane Arraf from Lviv, Ukraine, Matthew Mpoke Bigg from London and Rick Gladstone from New York.

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French Election: Macron Holds Off Far-Right Push

Credit…Thibault Camus/Associated Press

PARIS — Officials across Europe swiftly reacted with a sigh of relief on Sunday after President Emmanuel Macron of France comfortably beat his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen, in the presidential election.

“Together, we will advance France and Europe,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, wrote in French on Twitter.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, wrote on Twitter that “we can count on France for five more years,” while Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany said Mr. Macron’s re-election was a “vote of confidence in Europe.”

Mr. Macron’s office said on Sunday that Mr. Scholz had called Mr. Macron to congratulate him. “It is the first call that the president has received and taken, a sign of Franco-German friendship,” his office said.

At home, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Mr. Macron’s foreign minister, told France 2 television that he was “convinced” Mr. Macron would be “up to the challenges that await.”

Final results are not yet published, but French pollsters project that Mr. Macron has won with roughly 58 percent of the vote. Still, his political opponents warned that his next term would have to take into account the simmering anger in the French electorate, as the far right won more of the vote than it has in decades.

“There has never been such a vote of despair,” Christian Jacob, the head of the conservative Républicain party, said on French television.

Roughly 28 percent of the French electorate sat out this round of the election — the highest level in over 50 years in the second round of a presidential vote.

“He is floating in a sea of abstention, and blank or null ballots,” Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the firebrand leftist who came in a strong third in the first round of the elections early this month, said in a speech on Sunday of Mr. Macron.

Mr. Mélenchon hopes to become prime minister if his party gets a strong majority in the parliamentary elections, to be held in June. “The third round starts tonight,” he said.

Top European leaders had expressed barely veiled alarm at the possibility of a Le Pen victory. Last week, the leaders of Germany, Portugal and Spain had taken the highly unusual step in an opinion article in Le Monde of implicitly urging French voters to reject her.

On Sunday, Christian Lindner, the finance minister in Germany, said a united Europe was the biggest winner. “This choice was a directional choice,” he wrote on Twitter. “It was about fundamental questions of values.”

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain welcomed Mr. Macron’s victory as proof that the French want “a free, strong and just E.U.”

Officials outside of the European Union reacted, as well.

President Volodomyr Zelensky of Ukraine also congratulated Mr. Macron on his victory, calling him a “real friend of Ukraine” on Twitter. “I appreciate his support and I am convinced that we will move forward together toward new shared victories,” he wrote.

And, Christine Lagarde, the head of the European Central Bank, extended her “warmest congratulations” to Mr. Macron.

“Strong leadership is essential in these uncertain times and your tireless dedication will be much needed to tackle the challenges we are facing in Europe,” Ms. Lagarde wrote on Twitter.

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain tweeted that “France is one of our closest and most important allies.”

“I look forward to continuing to work together on the issues which matter most to our two countries and to the world,” Mr. Johnson wrote.

Liz Alderman and Raphael Minder contributed reporting.

Correction: 

April 24, 2022

An earlier version of this article misstated the position of Christine Lagarde. She is the head of the European Central Bank, not the head of the International Monetary Fund.

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European Green Energy Firms Often Fall Short on Financing

LONDON — When Jakob Bitner was 7, he left Russia for Germany with his parents and sister. Twenty-eight years later, he is set on solving a vexing green-energy problem that could help Germany end its dependence on imported energy from Russia, or anywhere.

The problem: how to make wind and solar energy available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even if the sun is not shining or the wind not blowing.

The company that Mr. Bitner co-founded in Munich in 2016, VoltStorage, found some success selling storage battery packs for solar power to homeowners in Europe. Now the company is developing much larger batteries — each about the size of a shipping container — based on a chemical process that can store and discharge electricity over days, not just hours like today’s most popular battery technology.

These ambitions to overcome the unreliable nature of renewable energy fit perfectly with Europe’s targets to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. But Mr. Bitner’s company is facing a frustrating reality that threatens to undercut Europe’s plans and poses a wider challenge in the global fight against climate change: a lack of money to finish the job.

plenty of capital available globally for the multitrillion-dollar task of funding this transition to greener energy.

The war in Ukraine has made Europe’s energy transition even more urgent. The European Union has said it will cut imported Russian natural gas by two-thirds this year and completely by the end of the decade. While some of that supply will be made up by imports from other countries, such as the United States and Qatar, expanding domestic renewable energy capacity is a critical pillar to this plan.

But attracting investors to projects trying to move beyond mature technologies like solar and wind power is tough. Venture capitalists, once cheerleaders of green energy, are more infatuated with cryptocurrencies and start-ups that deliver groceries and beer within minutes. Many investors are put off by capital-intensive investments. And governments have further muddied the water with inconsistent policies that undermine their bold pledges to reduce carbon emissions.

Tony Fadell, who spent most of his career trying to turn emerging technologies into mainstream products as an executive at Apple and founder of Nest, said that even as the world faced the risks of climate change, money was flooding into less urgent developments in cryptocurrency, the so-called metaverse and the digital art collections sold as NFTs. Last year, venture capitalists invested $11.9 billion in renewable energy globally, compared with $30.1 billion in cryptocurrency and blockchain, according to PitchBook.

Of the $106 billion invested by venture capitalists in European start-ups last year, just 4 percent went into energy investments, according to PitchBook.

“We need to get real,” said Mr. Fadell, who now lives in Paris and has proposed ideas on energy policy to the French government. “Too many people are investing in the things that are not going to fix our existential problems. They are just investing in fast money.”

It has not helped that the industry has been burned before by a green tech boom. About 15 years ago, environmentally conscious start-ups were seen as the next big thing in Silicon Valley. One of the premier venture capital firms, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, made former Vice President Al Gore a partner and pledged that clean energy would eventually make up at least a third of its total investments.Instead, Kleiner became a cautionary tale about the risks of investing in energy-related companies as the firm missed out on early backing of social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.

There is evidence that these old fears are receding. Two years ago 360 Capital, a venture capital firm based in Paris and Milan dealing in early-stage investment, introduced a dedicated fund investing in clean energy and sustainability companies. The firm is now planning to open up the fund to more investors, expanding it to €150 million from a €30 million fund.

There are a growing number of dedicated funds for energy investments. But even then there is a tendency for the companies in them to be software developers, deemed less risky than builders of larger-scale energy projects. Four of the seven companies backed by 360 Capital’s new fund are artificial intelligence companies and software providers.

Still, the situation has changed completely since the company’s first major green-energy investment in 2008, Fausto Boni, the firm’s founder, said. “We see potentially lots of money coming into the sector, and so many of the issues we had 15 years ago are on their way to being overcome,” he said. But the availability of bigger investments needed to help companies expand in Europe still lags behind, he added.

Breakthrough Energy Catalyst, which is backed by Bill Gates, is trying to fill the gap. It was formed in late 2021 to help move promising technology from development to commercial use. In Europe, it is a $1 billion initiative with the European Commission and European Investment Bank to support four types of technologies — long-duration energy storage, clean hydrogen, sustainable aviation fuels and direct air capture of carbon dioxide — that it believes need to scale quickly.

In Europe, there are “significant difficulties with the scaling-up phase,” said Ann Mettler, the vice president for Europe at Breakthrough Energy and a former director general at the European Commission. There is money for start-ups, but when companies become reasonably successful and a bit larger, they are often acquired by American or Chinese companies, she said. This leaves fewer independent companies in Europe focused on the energy problems they set out to solve.

Companies that build complex — and often expensive — hardware, like Mr. Bitner’s batteries for long-duration energy storage, have an especially hard time finding investors willing to stomach the risks. After a few investment rounds, the companies are too big for early-stage investors but too small to appeal to institutional investors looking for safer places to park large amounts of cash.

“If you look at typical climate technologies, such as wind and solar and even the lithium-ion batteries, they took well over four decades to go from the early R&D to the large-scale commercialization and cost competitiveness,” Ms. Mettler said, referring to research and development. “Four decades — which obviously we don’t have.”

There are some signs of improvement, including more funds focused on clean energy or sustainability and more companies securing larger investment rounds. But there is a sense of frustration as investors, companies and European governments agree that innovation and adoption of new technology need to happen much more quickly to reduce carbon emissions sharply by 2030.

“You won’t find a place in the world that is more attuned to what is needed than Europe,” Ms. Mettler said. “It’s not for lack of ambition or vision — it’s difficult.”

But investors say government policy can help them more. Despite climate pledges, the regulations and laws in place haven’t created strong enough incentives for investments in new technologies.

Industries like steel and concrete have to be forced to adopt greener methods of production, Mr. Boni, the 360 Capital founder, said.

For energy storage, hydrogen, nuclear power and other large-scale projects, the government should expedite permitting, cut taxes and provide matching funds, said Mr. Fadell, who has put his personal fortune into Future Shape, which backs start-ups addressing societal challenges.

“There are few investors willing to go all in to put up $200 million or $300 million,” Mr. Fadell said. “We need to know the government is on our side.”

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French prosecutor studying EU anti-fraud agency report on Le Pen, article with image

Marine Le Pen, French far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party candidate for the 2022 French presidential election, gestures during a campaign meeting in Avignon, France, April 14, 2022. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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PARIS, April 17 (Reuters) – French prosecutors said on Sunday they are examining a report by the European Union’s anti-fraud agency accusing far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and members of her party of misappropriating thousands of euros’ worth of EU funds.

Le Pen is challenging Emmanuel Macron in a presidential election with opinion polls showing Macron edging ahead in next Sunday’s second round runoff.

The Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that it was studying a report it received from the EU anti-fraud agency OLAF on March 11.

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Investigative website Mediapart wrote on Saturday that the OLAF report claimed Le Pen had misappropriated 140,000 euros of public money with party members in total diverting 617,000 euros. None are accused of profiting directly, but of claiming EU funds for staff and event expenses.

Le Pen’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

“The French will not be fooled by attempts of the European Union and the European institutions (…) to interfere in the presidential campaign and harm Marine Le Pen,” National Rally president Jordan Bardella told Europe 1 radio.

He said his party had filed two legal complaints against OLAF, and that it would be filing a third in response to the report.

Speaking to BFM TV, Le Pen’s lawyer Rodolphe Bosselut said his client denied the charges. He said she had yet to be questioned and neither he nor Le Pen had seen the OLAF report.

Le Pen has been under investigation since 2017 as part of a probe into the alleged misuse of European Union funds to pay parliamentary assistants.

($1 = 0.9254 euros)

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Reporting by Gilles Guillaume; writing by John Irish; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Ukraine Live Updates: Evidence of Abuses Mount as Biden Promises More Aid

Investigators from almost a dozen countries combed bombed-out towns and freshly dug graves in Ukraine on Wednesday for evidence of war crimes, and a wide-ranging investigation by an international security organization detailed what it said were “clear patterns” of human rights violations by Russian forces.

Some of the atrocities may constitute war crimes, said investigators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, who examined myriad reports of rapes, abductions and attacks on civilian targets, as well as the use of banned munitions.

On Wednesday, civilians were still bearing much of the brunt of the seven-week-old invasion as Russian forces, massing for an assault in the east, bombarded Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, striking an apartment building.

In an hourlong phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s leader, President Biden said the United States, already a major provider of defensive armaments to Ukraine, would send an additional $800 million in military and other security aid. The package will include “new capabilities tailored to the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.

American officials said Wednesday that the United States, in helping Ukraine prepare for such an assault, had increased the flow of intelligence to Ukraine’s government about Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine eight years ago. The administration also is considering whether to send a high-level official to Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in the days ahead as a sign of support for the country, according to a person familiar with the internal discussions.

War crimes claims are famously difficult to investigate, and still harder to prosecute. It’s rare for national leaders to be charged, and even rarer for them to end up in the defendant’s chair.

But the war in Ukraine may prove different, some experts say, and momentum has been building to hold the Kremlin leadership responsible.

An International Criminal Court investigation into possible war crimes has been underway since last month, and a number of countries have been looking at ways for the United Nations to help create a special court that could prosecute Russia for what is known as the crime of aggression. Other possibilities include trying Russians in the courts of other nations under the principle of universal jurisdiction, the legal concept that some crimes are so egregious they can be prosecuted anywhere.

Credit…Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

Part of the motivation for accountability is the revulsion in Europe and much of the world over the behavior of President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces, including reported executions of bound civilians and other atrocities.

War crimes experts also point to technological advances in forensic tools like facial identification software not available to those looking into earlier conflicts, and the sheer number of investigators on the ground in Ukraine — crucially, with the government’s blessing. A dozen French investigators joined the inquiries this week.

“There will be prosecutions, and probably all over the world,” said Leila Sadat, an international law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and a longtime adviser to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on crimes against humanity. “Ukraine is actually crawling with war crimes investigators right now.”

Still, experts warned that the process would be slow, and that any early indictments would most likely be against lower-ranking Russian officials and armed-service members. Russia, which has described the accusations as fictional or unfounded, is not expected to cooperate in any prosecution.

The report released Wednesday by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a 57-member organization based in Vienna that includes Russia, Ukraine and the United States, is one of the first in-depth studies of human rights abuses during Russia’s offensive against Ukraine.

Investigators looked at some of the most notorious attacks and other violent acts of the war, including Russia’s bombings of a theater and a maternity hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol, both depicted in the report as apparent war crimes.

They also pored through accounts of other horrific, if less visible, acts of violence. “There are allegations of rapes, including gang rapes, committed by Russian soldiers in many other regions in Ukraine,” they wrote.

But often, they were stymied.

Russia declined to cooperate with the three-person team of investigators, making it “impossible for the mission to take account of the Russian position on all pertinent incidents,” the report said.

Credit…Sergey Bobok/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Investigators found that Ukrainian forces, too, had been guilty of some abuses, particularly in the treatment of prisoners of war. “The violations committed by the Russian Federation, however, are by far larger in nature and scale,” their report said.

Michael Carpenter, the American ambassador to the O.S.C.E., said the report “documents the catalog of inhumanity perpetrated by Russia’s forces in Ukraine.” The European Union issued a similarly positive appraisal.

“This war is not only fought on the ground,” the bloc said in a statement. “It is clear that the Kremlin is also waging a shameful disinformation campaign in order to hide the facts of Russia’s brutal attacks on civilians in Ukraine. Reliable information and collection of facts have therefore never been as important as today.”

The Kremlin’s own mission to the O.S.C.E. dismissed the findings as “unfounded propaganda.”

On Tuesday, even as the Ukrainian authorities were unearthing bodies in full view of international journalists and other observers, Mr. Putin called the atrocities a “fake” that had been elaborately staged by the West.

On Wednesday, standing near the site of two mass graves, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said there was an obligation both to uncover the facts and to do so in a transparent way to combat Russian disinformation.

“When you see dead bodies here, from the other side, from the Russian Federation, they say it is all fake, all this is our theater,” Ms. Venediktova said.

Ukrainian prosecutors and the newly arrived team of French experts exhumed bodies this week from mass graves in Bucha, a Kyiv suburb, where hundreds of civilians were killed during the brief Russian occupation of the area. The French government said that its team included ballistics and explosives experts and that it had the ability to do rapid DNA tests.

Credit…Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA, via Shutterstock

Evidence from the French investigation and others involving several different countries will be channeled to the International Criminal Court, which started looking into possible war crimes a week after the Feb. 24 invasion. Although Ukraine is not part of the agreement that created the court two decades ago, it has granted the court authority to investigate and prosecute in this conflict.

Investigators say they are intent on showing the world the reality of the war.

“They can see everything. They can see the situation here: real graves, real dead bodies, real bomb attacks,” Ms. Venediktova said. “That’s why for us this moment is very important.”

The O.S.C.E. report described a range of subterfuge by Russian forces, including the use of Red Cross emblems, white flags, Ukrainian flags and civilian clothes. And the organization’s investigators expressed concern that both sides might be holding more prisoners than disclosed.

On Wednesday, President Zelensky spoke directly about one of them: Viktor Medvedchuk, a Ukrainian politician and ally of Mr. Putin’s who was detained this week. Mr. Zelensky proposed exchanging him for Ukrainians held captive by Russian forces.

Even as agreement grew among many world leaders that war crimes charges were warranted, there was some disagreement over how to characterize Russia’s actions. Some leaders, among them Mr. Biden, have begun to use the term “genocide” — an escalation of his rhetoric. On Wednesday, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, dissented.

“What is happening is madness, it’s a brutality that’s unheard-of,” Mr. Macron said. But, he said, “Genocide has a meaning. The Ukrainian people and the Russian people are brethren people.”

“I’m not sure that an escalation of words serves the cause,” he said.

The war crimes report came amid signs that Russia’s invasion may have backfired in at least one respect. Mr. Putin has long objected to NATO’s expansion eastward into the onetime domains of the Soviet Union, describing it as a fundamental threat to Russia. But on Wednesday, two militarily nonaligned nations, Finland and Sweden, said they were seriously considering joining the alliance.

Legal experts did not rule out the possibility, some day, of an indictment of Mr. Putin, who has already been castigated as a war criminal by some Western leaders. And were Mr. Putin to be criminally charged by a court outside Russia, it would likely mean he would have to restrict his international travel in order to minimize the risk of possible arrest were he to venture beyond Russia’s borders.

Credit…Ronaldo Schemidt/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

David Crane, a legal scholar at Syracuse University who was the chief prosecutor for the Special Court for Sierra Leone, an international war crimes tribunal that convicted the former president of Liberia, Charles G. Taylor, said he was confident that the International Criminal Court or some other judicial body would find legal grounds to charge the Russian president.

And even if Mr. Putin is never arrested and remains the leader of Russia, he said, the legal and diplomatic consequences of a war crimes indictment would severely undermine his credibility.

It would be as if “there’s like an ash mark on his forehead,” Mr. Crane said. “There’s no good options for him.”

Marc Santora reported from Warsaw, Erika Solomon from Berlin and Carlotta Gall from Bucha, Ukraine. Reporting was contributed by Jane Arraf from Lviv, Ukraine; Aurelien Breeden from Paris; Cora Engelbrecht from Krakow, Poland; Farnaz Fassihi from New York; Eric Nagourney from Los Angeles; and Rick Gladstone from Eastham, Mass.

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French Election: Macron Leads Le Pen in Early Vote Count

Credit…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

VERSAILLES, France — The French, it is said, vote with their hearts in the first round and with their heads in the second.

But voters in diverse cities near Paris appeared to use both when casting their ballots on Sunday, further evidence that France’s two-round voting system encourages unusually strategic thinking.

Twelve candidates were on the ballot. But with polls showing that the second round will most likely be a rematch between President Emmanuel Macron and the far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, voters were already thinking of the showdown set for April 24.

In Versailles, a center of the conservative Roman Catholic vote, the center-right candidate, Valérie Pécresse, was the local favorite. But she was in the single digits in most polls.

After voting at City Hall, a couple who gave only their first names — Karl, 50, and Sophie, 51 — said they had voted for Éric Zemmour, the far-right TV pundit who ran an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim campaign.

“I’m in favor of selective immigration, instead of the current situation where we have immigrants who are seeking to take advantage of the French system,” said Karl, who works in real estate. He added that he had voted for Mr. Macron in 2017, but that he had been disappointed by the president’s policies toward immigration and his failure to overhaul the pension system.

This time, he and Sophie, a legal consultant, said they would support Ms. Le Pen in the runoff because they believed that she had gained credibility.

For Grégoire Pique, 30, an engineer concerned about the environment, his choice had been Yannick Jadot, the Green candidate. But with Mr. Jadot languishing in the polls, Mr. Pique endorsed the longtime leftist leader, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, ranked third in most polls.

In the second round, Mr. Pique said, he planned to reluctantly vote for Mr. Macron to block Ms. Le Pen.

“I don’t like this principle,” he said, “but I’ll do it.”

About 10 miles from Versailles, in Trappes, a working-class city with a large Muslim population, similar calculations were taking place.

Credit…Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

Georget Savonni, 64, a retired transportation worker, said he voted with his heart for Ms. Pécresse, even though he knew that she had little chance of making it into the second round. Two Sundays from now, he said, he planned to vote reluctantly for Mr. Macron, also to stop Ms. Le Pen.

“I agree with most of Macron’s economic programs, and I feel he handled the pandemic very well,” Mr. Savonni said. “But I feel he doesn’t respect people and that he’s arrogant.”

Bilel Ayed, 22, a university student, wanted to support a minor left-leaning candidate, but endorsed Mr. Mélenchon, the leading candidate on the left. In the second round, he said, even though he believed that Ms. Le Pen, as president, would be far more terrible for France than Mr. Macron, he was unable to forgive the president for what he said was a crackdown on personal freedoms, like the violent suppression of the anti-government Yellow Vest movement.

“I’m not voting in the second round,” he said. “I’m staying home.”

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