Editor’s note: We will be off tomorrow for the Fourth of July, but the Daily Memo will resume on Friday.
Ukraine’s defenses. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Toronto, after which Zelenskiy said Ukraine and Canada will sign an agreement on defense cooperation, having already agreed on the supply of armored vehicles to Ukraine. He did not provide additional details. Zelenskiy also said that he and Trudeau discussed joint defense projects and that Kiev was interested in deepening its cooperation with UNIFIER, the Canadian military training mission that’s in Ukraine until 2022. Trudeau, for his part, announced that Ukraine was included in the list of countries to which Canada is allowed to supply weapons.
Demographic declines. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova has said that Russia is losing the people – not the confidence or the hearts or the minds of its people, but the people themselves. Over the past four months, the country’s population has declined by nearly by 150,000 as birth rates fall and life expectancy decreases. Two weeks ago, U.N. experts analyzed Russia’s demographic problems, and according to a more pessimistic scenario, the population of Russia could fall below 100 million by 2100. (Its current population is about 146 million.)
Italy, meanwhile, is also dealing with slower population growth. In 2018, there was a 4 percent decline in births, bringing the total number to the lowest the country has had since 1861. Much of Italy’s population is, moreover, aging. Over 23 percent of its population is 65 or older, which means Italy has the second largest share of seniors in the world after Japan.
Italian finances. A couple of days after the Italian Cabinet trimmed its 2019 budget deficit back in line with original targets (to about 2 percent from a revised 2.4 percent in April), the European Commission agreed not to start disciplinary proceedings against Rome – for now. Italian government debt has rallied on the news, with 10-year bonds falling this week below 2 percent for the first time since May 2018. As part of the compromise, the Italian government also reportedly vowed that next year’s budget, which will be crafted this fall, will not exceed European Union limits. But with Rome still touting a costly flat tax plan and refusing a value-added tax hike it had previously agreed to had it failed to hit its deficit targets, this fight is far from over.
- Russia resumed making contributions to the budget of the Council of Europe.
- In April, for the first time ever, the U.S. generated more electricity from renewable sources than coal.
- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced that China will expedite the process of opening up its markets to foreign investments. In 2020, China will eliminate caps on foreign ownership of securities and future and life insurance firms, and in 2021 eliminate equity caps for these same industries.
- Mexican officials reported a 33 percent increase of foreign deportations in June compared with the previous month, following a deal it made with the U.S. to reduce migration to the U.S. in exchange for avoiding sanctions.
- On Monday, 14 Russian sailors died in a fire on a submarine. Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the deaths were caused by inhaling combustible materials aboard the submarine, which was designed for researching the seafloor. The U.S. Naval Institute cited rumors that the incident took place in the Barents Sea, but the Ministry of Defense hasn’t confirmed the location.
- Yesterday, the U.S. State Department designated the Balochistan Liberation Army – a Pakistan-based, ethnic-Baloch militia responsible for attacking Chinese targets in Pakistan – as a terrorist organization. The group was responsible for an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi last November and for an attack on a five-star hotel in Gwadar Port, one of the flagships of Chinese-Pakistani Belt and Road Initiative cooperation.
- Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has appointed new military commanders, including a new deputy chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, and a new commander of the Basij.
- Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps engaged with what Fars News, a government-friendly news agency, referred to as an “anti-revolutionary terrorist group” in northwestern Iran. Without explicitly saying so, this almost certainly means Kurdish separatists, likely the Kurdistan Free Life Party, an affiliate of the better-known Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
- The United Kingdom’s economy probably shrunk by 0.1 percent in the second quarter, IHS Markit said, based on the Purchasing Managers’ Index readings in services, construction and manufacturing.
- In May, the U.S. trade deficit rose higher than expected – by 8.4 percent to $55.5 billion, a five-month high. The increase was driven by a surge in imports.
- European leaders agreed on their nominees for a variety of EU posts. Headliners include current German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen for the position of European Commission president and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde as European Central Bank president.
- North Korea has issued a commemorative coin that displays the phrase “denuclearization” and a picture of what looks like a nuclear weapon being destroyed.
- A rally was held in Kiev’s Independence Square protesting two pro-Russian candidates running for Parliament. The protest was relatively small – about a thousand people, according to a local source.
- According to Serbian President Aleksander Vucic, Serbia is using mountain back roads to send products to northern Kosovo, which has a majority Serb population, in order to avoid a 100 percent import tax that Kosovo has levied on Serbia.