Prigozhin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch who controls a mercenary force in Syria, was communicating with Syrian officials and the Kremlin "days and weeks before and after" an attack on U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces earlier this month, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This could indicate that the Kremlin signed off on an attack against U.S. troops in Syria that left scores of Russians dead and threatens to raise military tensions to new heights. It also adds to the intrigue surrounding Prigozhin, a Putin ally who was indicted by Robert Mueller for operating the Russian "troll farm" that carried out online election interference.

In an intercepted January cable to a Syrian official, Prigozhin said he had "secured permission" from a Russian minister for a “fast and strong” initiative in early February, per the Post.

  • The attack "marked the biggest direct challenge to the U.S. military presence in eastern Syria" since the U.S. "began deploying there in 2015," per the Post.
  • Big picture: The U.S. retaliated against pro-regime forces because they crossed the deconfliction line that was agreed upon by U.S. and Russian forces. And, U.S. forces were in communication with Russian officials before, during, and after the attack.

Go deeper: Read the full Washington Post report.

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Dave Lawler, author of World
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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photo: Saul Loeb/AFP

The world may be living through the last gasps of America First — or just getting a taste of what's to come.

Why it matters: President Trump's message at this week's virtual UN General Assembly was short and relatively simple: global institutions like the World Health Organization are weak and beholden to China; international agreements like the Iran deal or Paris climate accord are "one-sided"; and the U.S. has accomplished more by going its own way.

New York daily coronavirus cases top 1,000 for first time since June

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

New York on Friday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the first since June.

Why it matters: The New York City metropolitan area was seen as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the spring. But strict social distancing and mask mandates helped quell the virus' spread, allowing the state to gradually reopen.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 32,647,382 — Total deaths: 990,473 — Total recoveries: 22,527,593Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 7,053,171 — Total deaths: 204,093 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,488,275Map.
  3. States: U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.