Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday the U.S. has been "discouraging the Kurds from dialogue" with the Syrian government and sowing “separatist sentiment” among them, per the AP. Lavrov said this shows a “lack of understanding of the situation or a deliberate provocation” and urged all involved parties to recognize Syria’s sovereignty.

Why it matters: This comes as Turkey is launching an offensive to boot out Kurdish forces with links to the U.S. in Syria over the weekend, and Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said Turkey has an agreement with Russia over the assault. The U.S. detailed plans last week to continue backing Kurdish forces in the region to ensure that ISIS or other rogue elements don’t regain control of the territory, setting up fuel for the showdown to continue.

Now that ISIS lacks a physical caliphate in the region, the powers with overlapping and conflicting interests in the region are butting heads — not that they weren’t before. The conflict now is taking on a different form, one in which the various parties in Syria tend to disagree about Syria’s future, in which a political solution post-ISIS remains to be determined, and on top of all that, the war is ongoing. These tensions will only ramp up from here.

Keep in mind...

  • Russia supports a Syrian future with President Bashar al-Assad in power.
  • Iran has been backing Assad as well.
  • Turkey's Erdogan broke with Russia and Iran last month when he called Assad a terrorist and questioned whether there could be a political solution involving the president.
  • The U.S. has said there is no future for Assad in Syria, but has also said the future of Syria must be determined by the Syrian people.

Go deeper

How "naked ballots" could upend mail-in voting in Pennsylvania

Trump signs in Olyphant, Penn. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court ordered state officials last week to throw out mail-in ballots submitted without a required inner "secrecy" envelope in November's election, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The state of play: The decision went under the radar alongside the simultaneous decision to extend the time that mail-in ballots could be counted, but Philadelphia's top elections official warned state legislators this week that throwing out so-called "naked ballots" could bring "electoral chaos" to the state and cause "tens of thousands of votes" to be thrown out — potentially tipping the presidential election.

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Fed Chair Jay Powell bump elbows before House hearing on Tuesday. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that the expiration of Congress' coronavirus stimulus will weigh on the U.S. economy.

Why it matters: Powell warned that the effects of dried-up benefits are a looming risk to the economy, even if the consequences aren't yet visible.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

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

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!