Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Joshua Yaffa argues in the New Yorker that Russia’s threats of retaliation in advance of U.S.-led strikes in Syria may have prevented direct confrontation with the U.S. “for now.”

What Russia was doing, per Yaffa: Delivering “a measured dose of faux insanity…to make up for a gaping disparity in conventional military and economic strength.”

Russia's threats, per Yaffa:

  • “Russia’s top military officer, warned that Moscow would shoot down missiles fired at Syrian territory — and, what’s more, if Russian forces came under threat, would strike back by targeting launch facilities and platforms.”
  • "Other Russian officials were more muted, saying Russia would act only if its forces sustained a direct hit."
  • “Then, last week, Russia’s Ambassador to Lebanon said that any and all American missiles would be shot down, and their launch sites targeted."
  • “That whipped up fears of a direct U.S.-Russian military confrontation.”


  • “An official close to the Assad regime told Reuters, ‘We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians.’”
  • “The Syrian military bases and facilities struck by the United States, United Kingdom, and France, were not targets of particular significance to Russian military operations in Syria or locations that housed Russian troops or equipment.”

What’s ahead:

  • Potential U.S.-Russia conflict: “The latest air strikes do nothing to change the battlefield dynamics in Syria or the course of the war—which is to say, a U.S.-Russian showdown over Syria has most likely been delayed rather than avoided entirely.”
  • Sanctions: “For now, the immediate theatre for U.S.-Russian confrontation will likely shift to sanctions" — although this week Trump hit pause on new sanctions and Russia slowed potential countermeasures.

Read the article in full: “Russia’s ‘Madman’ Routine in Syria May Have Averted Direct Confrontation with the U.S., For Now

Go deeper

Investors are ignoring the coronavirus pandemic by buying stocks and gold

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. economic data is crumbling as increasing coronavirus cases keep consumers at home and force more cities and states to restrict commerce, but the stock market has continued to rise.

What's happening: Bullish fund managers are starting to lay down bets that it will be this way for a while. "The reason is: You have monetary and fiscal policy pushing the economy out of a problem and that is very, very bullish," Andrew Slimmon, senior portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, tells Axios.

How Trump's push to reopen schools could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration’s full-steam-ahead push to fully reopen schools this fall is on a collision course with the U.S.' skyrocketing coronavirus caseload and its decades-long neglect of public education.

Why it matters: Getting kids back to school is of paramount importance for children and families, especially low-income ones. But the administration isn’t doing much to make this safer or more feasible.

Coronavirus squeezes the "sandwich generation"

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

As the coronavirus poses risks and concerns for the youngest and oldest Americans, the generations in the middle are buckling under the increasing strain of having to take care of both.

Why it matters: People that make up the so-called sandwich generations are typically in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and in their prime working years. The increasing family and financial pressures on these workers means complications for employers, too.