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Military personnel in protective suits investigate the poisoning of Sergei Skripal on March 11, 2018, in Salisbury, England. Photo: Chris J. Ratcliffe via Getty Images

The poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom represents an alarming new attack in Russia’s unconventional war on the West. Skripal’s poisoning follows the mysterious death in December 2016 of another former spy, Oleg Erovinkin, in Moscow, who was later reported to have been a source for the Trump "dossier."

Between the lines: The Kremlin used the nerve agent Novichok as a calling card to signal that it can act with impunity and to scare off anyone contemplating disclosure of sensitive information about Russia's "active measures" against the West.

Why it matters: Not only does this attempted assassination violate all norms of international behavior, it also breaks unwritten rules of spycraft holding that a formal exchange of agents precludes further retribution. In spite of President Trump's predictable equivocation regarding Russia's complicity, the UK and NATO response to this escalation of Russia's hybrid war must be swift and forceful.

Michael Carpenter is senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

Go deeper

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

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  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
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Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.