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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios 

James Clapper, director of national intelligence under President Obama, says Russia is "the most pressing near-term threat to the U.S., for two reasons: its aggressive information operations campaign to undermine our basic system, and the modernization of its strategic nuclear arsenal."

Clapper told Axios in a recent interview that Russia is "bent on undermining our system any way they can," and will be as long as Vladimir Putin remains in power.

Sen. Tom Cotton cites Russia's "flagrant violations of its treaty commitments," including on nuclear weapons, as an issue that has flown under the radar despite "months of coverage of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election."

Michael Dempsey, the acting director of national intelligence in the first months of 2017, says Russia's election meddling and illegal annexation of Crimea point to a deeper threat:

  • "The erosion of existing international norms, and the international community’s inability to establish new norms in such areas as cyber warfare, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and autonomous weapons development."
  • "My main concern is that in the absence of agreed-upon norms in each of these areas, and without a vibrant Western alliance to rely on, the world could stumble into a crisis that it doesn’t understand and is incapable of managing."

Go deeper: Cold War 2.0.

Go deeper

30 mins ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.