Omission denies Democrats a post-speech talking point. (AP)

President Trump avoided mentioning Russia during his joint session speech Tuesday night, allowing him to sidestep further controversy on an issue that has plagued his nascent administration.

Only three foreign countries were mentioned by Trump in his first major speech to the nation: Israel, Iran and Canada.

The president discussed his administration’s recently established joint council on female entrepreneurship with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the United States’ “unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel,” and steps he is taking to ensure Iran faces consequences for its ballistic missile program.

But Russia, which poses one of the most vexing foreign policy challenges for the new commander-in-chief, did not come up once during Tuesday’s speech.

The omission of Russia was presumably meant to ensure Democrats will not have the controversial topic at their disposal as they review Trump’s speech and prepare their own rebuttals. Based on the nature of the issue and the questions that remain regarding Trump’s relationship with Moscow, mentioning U.S.-Russia relations would likely have drawn attention away from his speech and created a distraction in a moment that was pivotal for his presidency.

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