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Putin and Netanyahu in January. Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Putin spoke today on the phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and warned against further Israeli military strikes in Syria.

The backdrop: Putin made the demand three days after an airstrike on T4 airbase near the city of Homs in Syria killed at least 14 people among them seven members of the Iranian revolutionary guards corps (IRGC). Israel never took responsibility for the airstrike but Russia, Syria and Iran announced officially that Israeli jets fired the missiles that hit the base.

  • According to several reports in the Israeli media the target was a compound inside the Syrian base which was controlled by Iran and hosts a special IRGC unit in charge of flying drones in Syria.
  • In the call, Putin stressed "the fundamental importance of respecting the sovereignty of Syria" and asked Netanyahu to "refrain from any actions that further destabilize the situation in this country and pose a threat to its security," according to a statement by the Kremlin.
  • According to the Israeli Prime Minister's office, Netanyahu pushed back on Putin and stressed that Israel will not allow Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.

In the last two years, Netanyahu and Putin have maintained a good working relationship and consulted regularly on the Syrian issue. But the harsh message from Putin in the phone call with Netanyahu is a signal that the Russians are losing their patience for Israeli military action in Syria.

  • Yesterday, the Israeli ambassador to Moscow was summoned to the Russian foreign ministry over the Israeli strike, and the Russians issued several very critical press statements.
  • In the last three years, Israel launched around 100 airstrikes in Syria to prevent the transfer of sophisticated weapons from Iran to Hezbollah or to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria. The Russians turned a blind eye to most of the Israeli airstrikes, at least publicly. This time the Russians decided to react and communicate their displeasure in the open.

Go deeper: Netanyahu expecting Trump to strike in Syria.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Science

COVID time warp

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic seems like a lifetime ago to some, and just yesterday to others. Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.

Why it matters: The pandemic's global effects on how people experience time could provide new insights into the brain's ability to perceive and predict time — a fundamental feature of life.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California — America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron — CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers.
  2. Politics: Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come — Meta removes accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  4. World: Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people — Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.