Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

An Israeli airstrike against an Iranian weapons cache in Syria last night has ended with the downing of a Russian military plane and the death of its 15 crew members.

Why it matters: The incident has created the most serious crisis between Israel and Russia since President Putin sent his army to Syria in September 2015. Israeli officials are concerned the incident will break the close coordination with the Russians in Syria and limit Israel's freedom of operation against Iranian entrenchment in the country.

The big picture: In the last three years, Israel and Russia have built an effective coordination mechanism in Syria to ensure deconfliction between both countries' militaries. In those three years, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin have also built a very close relationship and reached several sets of understandings regarding Syria.

What we're hearing: Israel's main concern in Syria was Iranian military entrenchment that would give the Iranians a base for attacks against the country. Israeli officials told me Netanyahu describes the understandings with the Russians by saying that, "As long as we don't topple the Assad regime and as long as we don’t hit Russian soldiers, Putin doesn't have a problem with what we do in Syria."

  • According to those understandings, Israel fired off more than 200 airstrikes in Syria in the last three years with the Russians almost always looking the other way. Meanwhile, relations between Putin and Netanyahu only grew stronger.

What happened last night: Israeli jets attacked a warehouse in a Syrian military base in the coastal city of Latakia. According to the Israeli army, the warehouse was used to manufacture precision missiles that were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

  • After the airstrike, the Syrian air defenses fired several missiles against the Israeli jets. The Israeli army says the Syrian missile fire was inaccurate, indiscriminate and done without checking if there were Russian aircraft in the area. That ended in the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane.
  • The Israeli army also said that when the Syrians fired their missiles, the Israeli jets were already in Israeli airspace and the Russian plane was not even in the area of operations.

The fallout: The Russians were furious and claimed Israel "deliberately created a dangerous situation" for their plane. The Russian ministry of defense admitted that the plane was hit by a Syrian missile but blamed Israel for giving them only one minute of prior warning — thus violating their deconfliction agreement.

  • The Russian minister of defense called his Israeli counterpart, stated that Israel was responsible for the incident and said Russia reserves the right to take retaliatory action.
  • The Russian Foreign Ministry also summoned the Israeli deputy ambassador in Moscow. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin told the Israeli diplomat that his country's actions were "irresponsible and unfriendly."
  • Israel issued several statements expressing regret for the death of the 15 crew members, but emphasized that Syria and Iran were responsible.

State of play: The Kremlin and the Israeli Prime minister's office have tried to de-escalate the crisis. Putin said in a press conference that Israel didn't shoot down the plane, and he added that it was a result of "a chain of tragic circumstances."

  • Later, Putin and Netanyahu spoke on the phone. Netanyahu expressed regret for what happened and promised Putin that he'd send the commander of the Israeli air force to Moscow to give the Russians a brief on the incident.
  • Putin told Netanyahu that the deconfliction understanding was not observed by Israel, and he warned Netanyahu to ensure it doesn't happen again.

President Trump spoke about the incident at a press conference with his Polish counterpart and said Syria was the one who shot down the Russian plane. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also issued a statement, putting the blame on Syria and on "Iran’s provocative transit of dangerous weapon systems through Syria, which are a threat to the region."

What's next: Putin said today that Russia will retaliate by creating more security for Russian troops and bases in Syria. Putin added, "It will be steps that everyone will notice."

  • It is not clear what Putin meant, but Israeli experts and analysts think the Russians might boost their anti-aircraft capabilities in Syria and maybe even give the Syrian army air defense systems they didn't initially offer so as to not anger Israel.
  • Israeli officials fear any such Russian action could limit the freedom of operation Israel had in Syria over the last three years.
  • Political leadership in Russia and Israel is working to contain the crisis and maintain the close coordination, but this incident puts the Putin-Netanyahu relationship under their biggest test yet.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.

3 hours ago - Health

Student's death renews calls for schools to stock opioid overdose drug

Photo: Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A Connecticut student's death has renewed calls for schools to stock and administer naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Why it matters: U.S. drug overdose fatalities reached six figures in a 12-month period for the first time in November, and synthetic or natural opioids were the cause of a majority of the overdoses.