The Russian Sukhoi-25 fighter jet downed in Syria's northwest province of Idlib on February 3, 2018. Photo: Omar Haj Kadour / AFP / Getty Images

Relations between Russia and Turkey took a hit last week after a Russian warplane was shot down over Idlib province by Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a Syrian al-Qaeda offshoot allied with Turkey.

Why it matters: HTS used a “man-portable air-defense system” (MANPAD), a shoulder-fired missile system the U.S. has refused to provide to Kurdish militias, fearing it could fall into the hands of extremists. The terror group likely received the weapon from Turkey.

The Russian plane's downing followed a joint attack by HTS and Turkish troops that undermined a Russian-led “de-escalation zone.” In response, Russia has blocked Turkish fighter jets and drones from entering Syrian air space.

The bottom line: Syrian peace talks in Astana have already collapsed as a result of Turkish aggression, including the recent unprovoked attacks on Kurdish civilians in Afrin. This setback in Russia-Turkey relations increases tensions between countries vying for influence in Syria. In a region where "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," it may improve U.S.–Russia relations, catalyzing greater cooperation between Washington and Moscow in UN-brokered negotiations.

David L. Phillips is director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights.

Go deeper

8 hours ago - World

China-Iran deal envisions massive investments from Beijing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China and Iran have negotiated a deal that would see massive investments flow into Iran, oil flow out, and collaboration increase on defense and intelligence.

Why it matters: If the proposals become reality, Chinese cash, telecom infrastructure, railways and ports could offer new life to Iran’s sanctions-choked economy — or, critics fear, leave it inescapably beholden to Beijing.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 13,048,249 — Total deaths: 571,685 — Total recoveries — 7,215,865Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,353,348— Total deaths: 135,524 — Total recoveries: 1,031,856 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. World: WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" for foreseeable future — Hong Kong Disneyland closing due to surge.
  4. States: Houston mayor calls for two-week shutdownCalifornia orders sweeping rollback of open businesses — Cuomo says New York will use formula to determine if reopening schools is safe.
  5. Education: Los Angeles schools' move to online learning could be a nationwide tipping point.

House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony

Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday released the transcript of its closed-door interview with Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was forced out by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.

Why it matters: House Democrats have seized on Berman's testimony, in which he claimed the attorney general sought to "entice" him into resigning so that he could be replaced by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, to bolster allegations that the Justice Department has been politicized under Barr.