Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. 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!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

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 Axios Sports. 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 Axios Des Moines

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 Axios Tampa Bay

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!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

By sending two nuclear-capable bombers to Caracas for a week of “joint operational flights” with the Venezuelan air force, Vladimir Putin awarded Nicolás Maduro a propaganda victory and irked the U.S. with a new incursion into the Western hemisphere.

Why it matters: Maduro is set to be sworn in for a new term on January 10, 2019. With Western democracies planning not to recognize his new mandate and to take further diplomatic actions, Maduro needs all the international support he can get to prop up his claim to legitimacy.

Background: Russian-Venezuelan operational flights also took place in 2008 and 2013, but the stakes are higher in light of the Trump administration’s rhetoric about a Venezuela-led Troika of Tyranny in Latin America and the sanctioning of Maduro's government.

  • The operation also gave Maduro an important consolation prize after he failed to secure new financial investments on a recent trip to Moscow.

Between the lines: Putin's assertive symbolic gesture pushes back against Washington and creates uncertainty about the limits of Moscow’s action on behalf of a U.S. adversary.

  • Secretary of State Pompeo, who has defended the Monroe Doctrine of non-Western interference in the Americas, called the operation an example of “two corrupt governments squandering public funds.” The war of words continued but did not escalate after the White House received clarification that the bombers would not participate in joint exercises or stay in the country longer than a week.
  • The U.S.–Russia spat follows sparring between the U.S. and China over the legitimacy of efforts to influence development in Latin America — a quarrel that centered on Venezuela.

Where it stands: Recent yet unconfirmed media reports of Russian interest in hosting its bombers at an airfield on Venezuela’s La Orchila island have created new suspicions about the Kremlin’s intentions to establish a more permanent military presence in the Caribbean.

The bottom line: Neither Moscow nor Beijing have long-term hopes that Maduro can provide stability or prosperity, though his hold on power suggests their bets are safe for now.

Michael McCarthy is a research fellow at American University’s CLALS, an adjunct professor at George Washington University's Elliott School for International Affairs, and the founder and CEO of Caracas Wire.

Go deeper

Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.