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Watch List: June 14, 2018

Russia raises retirement age, rumored rift in North Korea, dueling military drills in Ukraine

  • Last updated: June 14
  • Total word count: 415 words

The items listed below represent potential emerging issues that our analysts are tracking. These can be long term or short term, but will be updated daily. If an item on our Watch List becomes critical, we will email you a full analysis explaining its significance.

Each Saturday, we will follow up our daily Watch List for each week with our conclusions on these issues.

Russia: The Kremlin decided to move forward with plans to raise the retirement age for women to 60 from 55 and for men to 65 from 63. Additionally, the value-added tax is expected to increase to 20 percent from 18 percent. Polls show 92 percent of Russians disagree with the changes to the retirement age. Are they upset enough to protest? Let’s see if we can get an estimate of the impact these changes will have on the Russian budget.

North Korea: A Seoul-based online newspaper that specializes in North Korean news spoke to a source who said North Korean citizens will not want to give up the country’s nuclear weapons easily. Giving up the weapons without getting something significant in return makes no sense. We have been considering the possibility of a rift within North Korea. Is this South Korean propaganda or is there real tension in the North?

Ukraine: Russian media said Ukraine created a diverse strike group in the Sea of Azov and moved a military contingent to Russia’s borders. Ukraine also closed the Melekine and Belosaraysk areas near the Sea of Azov for military exercises from June 1 to Sept. 1. Russian media outlet Group Zvezda also said Ukraine was conducting large tank drills in Donbass. Russia recently started a series of drills of its own in the Sea of Azov and other parts of Ukraine. Are they just trying to intimidate one another, or are we on the verge of a military confrontation?

Macedonia, Greece: Just hours after an agreement with Greece was reached, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov refused to sign a deal to change his country’s name to the Republic of North Macedonia, saying it violates constitutional law. What does this mean for the agreement’s future? How does it fit into other developments in the Balkans?

Georgia: Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has resigned. This is the latest in a string of significant events in the region – the Armenian prime minister’s resignation, troop activity near Nagorno-Karabakh and Russian military exercises in Dagestan. We need to understand the reasons behind his resignation and look for signs of public unrest.