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Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, May 16, 2017. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria on Twitter Monday, warning that he will "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey's economy if the country does anything he considers "off limits" — presumably referring to a military offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in the region.

"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!"

Why it matters: The president has faced intense backlash from Republicans who believe he has abandoned a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey, however, is a member of NATO, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday accepted an invitation from Trump to visit the White House next month.

Flashback: In August 2018, Trump raised tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum after the lira slid dramatically amid a currency crisis, causing even more damage to the economy, per the Washington Post.

  • He also slapped sanctions on Turkey over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, causing a crisis in bilateral relations and further deterioration of the Turkish economy. Brunson was later released in October 2018 and allowed to return to the U.S.

Go deeper: Turkey faces an economic crossroads after Istanbul elections

Go deeper

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.

Elon Musk: Autopilot feature wasn't enabled in fatal Texas crash

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday that "data logs recovered so far" show the car's Autopilot feature was not enabled — and it did not have access to "full self-driving mode" — in the deadly crash in Texas involving the company's electric vehicle.

Background: Local investigators said they believed the car was operating without anyone in the driver's seat. At the time of death, one man was in the passenger seat, while another was in the rear seat, KPRC 2 reports.