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President Putin meets President of Syria Bashar Al-Assad in Sochi, Russia, on May 17, 2018. Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In yesterday’s press conference with President Trump in Helsinki, President Putin expressed concern for the plight of Syrian refugees, suggesting that Russia aimed “to overcome humanitarian crisis and help [them] to go back to their homes.” That rings hollow.

Reality check: The current Syrian army offensive has triggered the single biggest displacement of the war, and it's backed by Russia. As of last week, the UN estimated more than 230,000 people are still on the move across southwest Syria, having fled the violence wrought by Russian planes and Assad’s ground troops. Earlier this month, that number was nearly 330,000 people.

The offensive, which began in June, violates a “de-escalation” agreement that Russia negotiated with the U.S. and Jordan last summer. It has taken a devastating toll on civilians, not least because of Russian airstrikes. Meanwhile, Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons on its own people and planned to confiscate the property of those forced to flee, seemingly without perturbing Putin.

In the past, the U.S. has held the Russian government at least partially responsible for the Assad regime’s conduct. Not yesterday.

[UNSUPPORTED BLOCK TYPE: axiom]

Jessica Brandt is a fellow in the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution.

Go deeper

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The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

GOP implosion: Trump threats, payback

Spotted last week on a work van in Evansville, Ind. Photo: Sam Owens/The Evansville Courier & Press via Reuters

The GOP is getting torn apart by a spreading revolt against party leaders for failing to stand up for former President Trump and punish his critics.

Why it matters: Republican leaders suffered a nightmarish two months in Washington. Outside the nation’s capital, it's even worse.

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6 hours ago - Economy & Business

The limits of Biden's plan to cancel student debt

Data: New York Fed Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax; Chart: Axios Visuals

There’s a growing consensus among Americans who want President Biden to cancel student debt — but addressing the ballooning debt burden is much more complicated than it seems.

Why it matters: Student debt is stopping millions of Americans from buying homes, buying cars and starting families. And the crisis is rapidly getting worse.

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