Berlin/Moscow — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her European allies are preparing to retaliate against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government over the poisoning of one of his top critics but their plans may not make much of an impression on the Kremlin.

Although countermeasures are all but inevitable, the EU action may consist of asset freezes and travel bans for Russian officials, according to officials familiar with the discussions. The almost completed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, Putin’s real weak point, is likely to be spared, officials said...

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