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Rounding up the biggest stories from Monday to Friday.

Your June 28 news briefing

Australia France

To start off, we’re looking into:

Australia and France will smooth things over

In September last year, Australia finalized a deal called AUKUS with the US and the UK, which would help the Aussies develop nuclear submarines. While this is all fine and well, initially, it was France that was going to help Australia with French-made submarines in a contract worth around US$66 billion. But according to sources, France was always running over budget and behind schedule. Plus, Australia was worried that another deal with the EU nation would mean that by the time they got their submarines, they would be outdated.

So Australia went ahead and made a deal with the US and UK and didn’t tell France until the last minute. The French were angry, canceling a Washington gala, labeling the behavior as Trump-like and saying it was “really a stab in the back.” Now, a new Australian leader is in office. Albanese has plans to make a detour to Paris on the way to Madrid for the NATO summit this week to smooth things out with France’s Macron. This comes after Australia announced it would pay France around US$584 million for walking back the original contract.

NATO to increase high-readiness troop numbers

NATO forces
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference ahead of a NATO summit that will take place in Madrid, at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

On Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the bloc would increase the number of troops at high readiness from around 40,000 to more than 300,000 troops, citing an increased threat by Russia to European security.

This means that several of the NATO battlegroups in eastern Europe will be upgraded to brigade level, meaning there will be thousands of tactical troops at the ready, including a mixture of land, sea and air forces. The move, Stoltenberg said, is to deter Russia from making any moves that would further infringe on European sovereignty or the sovereignty of any NATO members.

Russia’s debt default

Russia debt
FILE PHOTO: The clock on Spasskaya tower showing the time at noon, is pictured next to Moscow?s Kremlin, and St. Basil?s Cathedral, March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

On Sunday, Russia defaulted on its nation’s foreign-currency debt for the first time in a century because of Western sanctions that essentially made it impossible for the country to pay back its creditors. Up to now, the Kremlin has found ways around the restrictions on different payment methods. But, when the grace period for its around US$100 million interest payments ended, it marked a historic first.

But some people are saying that this isn’t a huge deal because of the damage done to the Russian economy since the Ukraine war started, with the people of Russia dealing with a huge economic slowdown and soaring inflation. Russia has said that this default doesn’t really count since the nation technically has the ability and the willingness to pay back its debts, but it’s just being held back by foreign governments. It has now said that all future payments would be made in rubles through a Russian bank, regardless of the original payment terms.

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