Jostling between the U.S. and Russia in the Black Sea shows no signs of abating. The head of U.S. naval forces in Europe, Adm. James Foggo, has emphasized the importance of U.S. and NATO freedom of navigation operations in Europe to push back against Russian aggression. He highlighted Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey as key allies in this effort. Romania’s defense minister also expressed concern about Russian activity in the Black Sea and said the country will emphasize the importance of defense when it takes over the presidency of the European Council next year. Meanwhile, a Moscow official warned that parts of the arms control infrastructure used to prevent nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia could collapse because of poor relations between the two countries. A Russian Foreign Ministry official has said, however, that Moscow is prepared to discuss extending the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the U.S.

Russia tries to ease tensions with Israel. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov has said the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria will not harm Russia-Israel relations. Normally, we don’t pay much attention to such comments, but this was the first statement by a senior Russian official to Israeli media since the incident. A new understanding between Russia and Israel may complicate Moscow’s ties with Iran and with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government. Watch for any changes in the bilateral relationship and signs of confrontation.

Plans to increase security in Mexico are off to a rocky start. Mexico’s incoming public security minister, Alfonso Durazo Montano, has said he does not anticipate increases in federal spending on public security when the new administration takes office. He acknowledged that the amount Mexico currently spends on security – 0.8 percent of gross domestic product – is insufficient and said spending should be three times higher because of major security problems. He added that more federal funds were also necessary to reduce poverty and social inequality. President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador campaigned on increasing security in the country but also promised austerity measures to improve the state of the economy. Something had to give.

Honorable Mentions:

  • In support of its goal to integrate with the West, Vietnam plans to change its national securities law to remove the 49 percent cap on foreign ownership for companies listed on the stock market and for privatized state-owned enterprises.
  • An Albanian newspaper has suggested that the country’s two main opposition parties may be joining forces to remove the country’s prime minister from office.
  • Catalonia’s two main secessionist parties disagree over the Catalan parliament’s strategy toward the Spanish government and whether to support Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet this week. There is also talk that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe may submit his government’s resignation and trigger a vote of confidence on a new government.
  • The South Korean foreign minister said the government in Seoul is studying the removal of bilateral sanctions on North Korea.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump said a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will likely take place after U.S. midterm elections in November.
  • Saudi Arabia will reportedly send an extra 4 million barrels of oil to India in November to compensate for any supply shortages it may experience because of sanctions on Iran.