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Luisa Vieira

What We’re Watching: Trump’s 2024 plans, G-20 & Basquiat in Bali, AMLO vs. Mexican democracy

Donald Trump’s “big announcement”

Tuesday is the day. We think. It’s not completely clear. Former US President Donald Trump has dropped a number of not-so-subtle hints that he will announce his candidacy for president on Tuesday. Millions of his supporters will be watching and hoping he pulls the trigger. Millions of Republicans who fear he’s become a liability for their party are hoping he’ll postpone or shock the world by not running. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other potential Trump rivals for the GOP nomination will be watching with dread for a first glimpse of the campaign Trump plans on waging against them. President Joe Biden, who will celebrate his 80th birthday later this month, will be watching to see what sort of Republican Party his reelection campaign is likely to face. The media will be watching in expectation of the opening salvo of the wildest presidential campaign in living memory. And you know we’ll be watching too.

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Annie Gugliotta

USMCA faces its biggest test

Mexico’s protectionist energy policies have caused a spat with its closest trade partners — the US and Canada — that appears to be heading into a high-stakes arbitration process.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv.

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

What We're Watching: Ukraine won't negotiate, AMLO busted spying, North Korean missile diplomacy

Ukraine on offense

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree on Tuesday asserting that all the lands that Russia’s Vladimir Putin claimed to annex last week — and Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014 — remain part of Ukraine. Zelensky and his generals appear to believe that Ukraine is winning the war with Russia, and they have battlefield advances to back up their case. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based military think tank, has reported that Ukraine has made “substantial gains” on both the eastern and southern fronts over the past few days and that the units they’re defeating are “some of Russia’s most elite forces.” No wonder Zelensky and many others would swat away suggestions from billionaire eccentric Elon Musk that Ukraine might trade land for peace. Russia has acknowledged recent losses, and blame continues to land on the country’s military brass. It’s not clear how far Ukraine can extend its current gains, but the recapture of Crimea, in particular, will be even more difficult than the more immediate tasks ahead for Ukrainian forces. But for now, Ukraine has pushed the Russian military, and the Kremlin, onto its heels.

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A natural gas pipe in front of EU and Russian flags.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

What We're Watching: Russia-EU pipeline repairs, AMLO in the (White) House, Sri Lanka's new leader

Will Russia turn the taps back on?

“Trust us,” Russia is saying, “we’re just doing routine maintenance.” Moscow has just shut off its Nord Stream 1 pipeline, a major source of natural gas for Germany, for 10 days of summer repairs. Annual checkups to these pipelines are normal, but this is no normal year. Berlin worries the Kremlin might leave the pipes closed as a way to retaliate against the EU for the bloc’s Ukraine-related sanctions. Nord Stream 1 carries about 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Germany, equaling about half of the country’s yearly consumption. If Moscow keeps the line shut, Europe would struggle to store up enough gas supplies ahead of next winter. Natural gas prices in Europe are already soaring, and although the EU is moving to wean itself off of Russian energy, any further shortfalls would further stoke already-high inflation, with unpredictable political consequences across the continent. Putin, of course, knows this. Keep an eye on that “closed for repairs” sign hanging on Nord Stream 1.

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A banner shows the images of three former Mexican presidents, as members of the ruling MORENA party organize documents with citizens' signatures after gathering them for a ballot measure that could put former presidents on trial for corruption.

REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico's corruption referendum eye-roll

If your country had suffered decades of crippling corruption, wouldn't you want to prosecute those responsible? Of course you would. On Sunday, almost 98 percent of Mexicans who voted in a national referendum on this subject said, in so many words: "Yes, please prosecute the last five presidents for corruption!"

The catch is that turnout was a dismal 7 percent, meaning the plebiscite fell way short of the 40 percent turnout threshold required for its result to be binding.

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What We're Watching: AMLO's bittersweet victory, Boko Haram's leader is (maybe) dead, El Salvador's move towards crypto

Did AMLO win in Mexico's midterms? The governing Morena party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lost its two-thirds lower-house majority in Sunday's midterms, dealing a blow to the leftwing nationalist leader's bid to radically transform Mexico. Although Morena and its allies are projected to hang on to a simple majority in the lower house, winning as many as 292 of the 500 seats up for grabs, that two-thirds margin was crucial for López Obrador's ability to change the constitution, something he's threatened to do in order to carry out what he calls a "Fourth Revolution" that remakes Mexico's economy in the interests of the poor and working class. Still, López Obrador remains in a commanding position: Morena and its allies look to have picked up more than half a dozen state governorships, and they still control both houses of Congress. Most importantly, despite failing to tackle crime, corruption, or poverty since his election in 2018, the left-populist López Obrador remains immensely popular in a country where traditional conservative politicians are reviled. Chastened as he may be by the result, as he heads into the final three years of his six-year term, López Obrador isn't likely to give much ground to his rivals. Read our full write-up of the election and its implications here.

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A supporter of Felix Salgado Macedonio, who was running for governor of the state of Guerrero as a candidate of President Andres Manual Lopez Obrador's MORENA party, takes part in a demonstration outside Mexico's National Electoral Institute in Mexico City.

REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico’s midterms: AMLO unbound?

On Sunday Mexican voters will go to the polls to elect 500 members of the lower house, roughly half of the country's governorships, more than two dozen state assemblies, and some 20,000 other local government posts. Some are calling it the largest election in the country's history.

The ruling Morena party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, is looking to hang on to its current two-thirds majority in the lower house, and to pick up several governorships to boot.

Although his name won't be printed on a single ballot, the vote is largely seen as a referendum on AMLO himself, the leftwing nationalist who swept to power in 2018 with huge promises to tackle violence, root out graft, help the poor and, above all, break the power monopoly of the traditional political class.

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Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City.

REUTERS/Henry Romero

Mexico vote will test support for López Obrador’s agenda of change

Mexicans will go to the polls Sunday to choose their representatives for the lower house of congress and the governors of 15 of their country's 32 states. Halfway into President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's six-year term, the vote will test public support for his efforts to expand government control of the economy and improve living standards for all Mexicans.

The veteran leftist leader won election in a landslide in July 2018, and though he remains very popular, cracks in his support have appeared. Eurasia Group experts Ana Abad, Carlos Petersen, and Daniel Kerner explain what's at stake on Sunday for the president.

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