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President Trump responded on Twitter to the alleged chemical attack by Syrian government forces that left dozens dead, calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin by name for his backing of the Assad regime.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

This tweet is important. So far, Trump has avoided at all costs saying anything negative or confrontational about Putin. Trump has let his administration take tough actions against Russia — like sanctions, sending lethal arms to Ukraine, expelling Russian diplomats — but his red line has been criticizing Putin. As we've reported previously, the president is loath to criticize Putin by name or call him out in one-on-one conversations.

The big picture: It's part of the Trump paradox. He still believes the United States and Russia have plenty of shared interests and wants to mend the relationship. He also thinks the only way to do this is by building a warm personal relationship with Putin, according t0 people who have discussed the issue privately with Trump. But this dual-track strategy — be nice personally and tough administratively — becomes more implausible every time Trump authorizes a harsh action against Russia and every time Putin authorizes a new abomination.

  • We saw, with this tweet, Trump hit the limits of this strategy. 

More tweets from Trump on the attack:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Get more stories like this by signing up for Jonathan Swan's weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek. 

Go deeper

Updated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. faces urgent anti-hacker crisis

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Biden administration is accelerating efforts to fill nearly 600,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the public and private sectors bogging down efforts to protect digital infrastructure.

Why it matters: Following a deluge of ransomware attacks targeting critical government and corporate infrastructure this year, clogs in the talent pipeline are leaving federal, cash-strapped local governments and Big Business even more susceptible to hacking.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

6 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.