Your Thursday Briefing

Sweden and the US have signed their first ever defense cooperation agreement.

Italy has terminated its participation in the Belt and Road agreement, set for official expiration in March 2024. More than half of the EU’s members are still part of the Belt and Road.

An audit on Volkswagen’s jointly owned plant in Xinjiang has found no indications of forced labour. The audit found that employees were qualified, had worked for the company for years, had a low work intensity, and are paid above the region average.

Russian oil revenues are now higher than they were before the Ukraine War began. Far from the sanctions curtailing Russian oil exports, they have instead provided the impetus for the creation of an alternative financial architecture of the oil and maritime trade in a way that is probably irreversible, in the typical mythical sense of “trying to prevent something happening only makes it happen faster.”

A freighter collided with a floating bridge in the Suez Canal, but unfortunately has not disrupted maritime traffic.

Japan’s PM, Kishida, is stepping down as the chief of his faction, Kochikai, in the ruling LDP amid a growing scandal.

The former leader of the “armed wing” of the US and French-backed coalition which drove President Aristide from power in 2004, Guy Philippe, was returned to Haiti on a U. Department of Homeland Security-chartered flight to Port-au-Prince in November; he has bitterly denounced President Henry’s government as “US tools”, proposing that instead of foreign intervention, Haitians should organize themselves alongside the police and army to reestablish security.

Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Umerov, has met with Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon to discuss the long term vision of Ukraine and the future of aid packages from the US.

All of the V-22 Ospreys in Japan have been grounded for a week for investigations after a CV-22 crashed off the coast of Japan, killing 8 American airmen.