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Photo: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to Russia today to negotiate the future of northern Syria — highlighting in the process the success of his audacious offensive, Vladimir Putin’s unmatched power in Syria, and America's absence from the table.

Why it matters: American influence in Syria is evaporating in real time as U.S. troops withdraw. It's now Turkey and Russia that are effectively re-defining the country's borders and debating the fate of America's Kurdish allies.

  • The deal announced today from Putin’s retreat in Sochi expands on the ceasefire Vice President Pence announced last Thursday, which was set to expire today, and covers three times as much territory.
  • It would grant Erdogan the “buffer zone” he’s long demanded, running 20 miles out from the Turkish-Syrian border. Erdogan hopes to resettle Syrian refugees there, in apparent violation of international law.
  • The deal gives Kurdish fighters an additional 150 hours to leave the zone, and their weapons, after which Turkey and Russia will conduct joint patrols along the border.

Between the lines: Russia and the U.S. are both capitalizing on the U.S. exit from Syria. Putin will take pleasure in the fact that today's deal was reached without the U.S., but with its NATO ally.

  • The deal could complicate Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s efforts to regain control over all of Syria.
  • Russia’s backing kept Assad in power through a brutal eight year civil war, but Erdogan was aiding the rebels seeking to topple him. Assad referred to Erdogan as a “thief” today in remarks carried on state TV.

The other side: Kurdish forces held the territory until their superpower ally, the U.S., suddenly withdrew.

  • A U.S. military convoy withdrawing from Syria for Iraq yesterday was pelted sporadically with fruit and stones by Kurdish civilians accusing the U.S of betrayal.
  • “We never agreed to protect the Kurds for the rest of their lives,” President Trump responded back in Washington.
  • Trump said the U.S. would keep small detachments in Syria at the request of Israel and Jordan and to “protect the oil," but there was otherwise "no reason" to remain.

The bottom line: Trump has suggested that Syria is now Russia and Turkey’s mess to sort out. In this instance, they were happy to do so without him.

Go deeper: Trump's Syria strategy — Get out, but "keep the oil"

Go deeper

Cuomo: "No way I resign" after sexual harassment accusations

Cuomo at a Feb. 24 press conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was defiant on Sunday, stating again that he would not resign even as more former aides have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

The big picture: Cuomo has denied all sexual harassment allegations against him and said that he "never inappropriately touched anybody." He acknowledged in a statement that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation." Some of the calls for Cuomo to resign have come from within the Democratic party.

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.