Author: Maksim Chikin

Author: Maksim Chikin

No agreements were reached

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The European Union could not accept the mechanism of the gas purchase price limit. A lot was expected from this meeting of EU energy ministers, but the heads of departments could not come to an agreement. A month ago, the leaders of the 27 EU countries demanded that the European Commission come up with a "temporary" mechanism that sets a ceiling on gas prices, but make sure that, firstly, the energy supply is not interrupted, and secondly, the market situation would not force the burning of existing stocks in the absence of new ones. Such a thing was invented and put forward for discussion by ministers. In addition, there were two other documents on the table. The first is about joint purchases of gas and fuel exchange technology in emergency cases, and the second is about simplifying the procedures for issuing licenses for the production of "green" energy components, for example, heat pumps and solar panels. There are no questions about these two proposals, but the package will be adopted together with the third and main document – just about the upper price limit. The Commission proposed from January 1, 2023 to introduce a mechanism that sets a ceiling on gas prices, if suddenly they soar to this ceiling. Monthly contracts are frozen for a year if prices at the gas hub in Rotterdam, which is where gas for the EU is traded, reach 275 euros per MW-hour and stay at this level for 10 consecutive days for two weeks. Explanation. In Europe, it is customary to consider the volume of gas in Megawatts per hour. For understanding, 1000 cubic meters is 10.49 MW-hour, or 1 MW-hour is 95.31 cubic meters. In Russia, everything is counted in cubes. By simple steps, we calculate that the proposed price ceiling is 2,885. 32 euros per 1,000 cubic meters. For example: now the price for 1,000 cubic meters is 1,154 euros. And no one will remember such ceilings to be 2.5 times higher than the current price. What started here! Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straten said: "We actually need a mechanism that would have a positive effect. Especially on the bills of our citizens for electricity, but it is unlikely that such a mechanism will have such an effect. Imagine if such a system existed in August, during the period of the maximum jump in prices, it would not even work." Her colleague from Spain called the commission's proposal a "stupid joke." The Polish minister with the speaking surname Anna Moscow complained: "We have minus 10, and we don't want to discuss fuel solidarity and renewable energy here. The EU Executive body should submit a new text within a few days." Even at the project stage, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and the Netherlands opposed the idea itself. The last three are the main virtual participants in gas purchases for the EU. Germany is very sensitive about its industry and everything connected with it. "We cannot allow our gas storage facilities to start emptying," said Sven Gigold, state Secretary of the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection. "If the threshold is raised too high, there will be no help from this system." Germany generally does not like interference in the gas market and, in principle, no regulatory mechanisms will suit it. The main concern of the Germans is that when prices are limited, its main suppliers do not leave the market, since Asian buyers are now ready to pay them such a high price. At the same time, the German industry will remain without gas. And although now its storages are filled to the brim, it will be necessary to burn stocks in case of a supply stoppage. The proposal of the European Commission, however, provides that in case of withdrawal from the market of the main suppliers, the mechanism of ceiling prices stops. This will be one of the main areas of discussion of the new EC draft, which is to be presented at a new meeting in Brussels in mid-December. Without a clear study of the topic of how to retain suppliers, it will not be realistic to agree. Another fuse in the European Commission's proposal is that the gas price should be 58 euros higher than the price of liquefied natural gas for two consecutive weeks. Only then does the notorious mechanism turn on. But it is clear that as soon as this happens, American and Saudi gas tankers will give a "full turn" from European ports. By the way, American liquefied gas production is not growing as fast as expected. Now, in order for the decision to pass, such EU heavyweights as France should put pressure on Germany to agree to accept conditions that are strange for her, based on purely political considerations. Just so that such a system exists. Moreover, its establishment is required by the countries of "Young Europe". By the way, it is on their proposal that all three projects should be adopted only as a single package in order to spur the "old people" to adopt, among other things, the mechanism of gas regulation. The Czech Republic currently holds the presidency of the European Union. Its Minister of Industry and Trade, Josef Sikela, said: "In any case, we must continue discussions so that the economies of our countries work. Otherwise we will not be able to support Ukrainians." In reality, as the expert of the European Commission explained, this mechanism of gas regulation is rather a deterrent. "Ideally, it should not turn on at all, because the market will understand that Europe is not ready to pay any price at any time." And suppliers will turn in the other direction. And then it will turn off. Then why all this?

Who said: "We will replace Macron"?

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The French extreme right have a new leader. Where did he come from and why? The party career of the new leader of the National Association, Jordan Bardell, is dizzying. At the age of 27, he led a party with a 50-year history that is known all over the world. It should be noted that he also received a party card as a schoolboy after watching the debates of Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Melenchon on TV in 2011, when he was 16 years old. Le Pen's leaflets were distributed only in a suit and tie. Mom was against it. Not against the content of the leaflets and not against the costume. It just happened mostly in Saint-Denis, a suburb where, let's say, it's better for whites not to go in the dark, and even more so with such ideas. It took several days to persuade my mother. By the way, Bardell likes to talk about how his mother is a kindergarten teacher, sometimes he had to count the days until his salary. At the same time, as a rule, he omits some nuances – such as, for example, that the lyceum where he studied was private, that is, paid, dad ran the company, and on his next birthday he received a Smart car as a gift. The career really developed at lightning speed. After distributing leaflets, he quickly became the head of the youth movement of the then National Front, and at the age of 21, Marin invited him to become the head of the party list in the elections to the European Parliament, and the "national front" then showed an impressive result. After the internal party elections, which Bardell won with a "Caucasian indicator" of 85 percent, many were surprised: the party seems to be a family one, the father founded it, the daughter continued, and Bardell, it turns out, is not the first Le Pen. Not really. Jordan is seriously courting Marine Le Pen's niece, and her dad, Philippe Olivier, is one of Marine's closest advisers. Well, the competitor in the pre-election battle was the mayor of Perpignan, Louis Alliot, a former companion of the hostess of the party. So the keys to the apartment would not have gone anywhere anyway. This is the end of the gossip column review. Why is all this done? Formally, Le Pen, who is 54 years old – not the retirement age at all – announced that she would like to focus on leading the National Unification faction (BUT) in parliament. After the historic victory – and now we have 89 deputies – this is one of the most serious factions in the National Assembly, and it is really logical to take advantage of the situation and squeeze maximum benefits out of it. But this is the first version. But others seem no less logical. The second is to continue the work on changing the image of the party. At any cost to get away from the image of the fascist and everything connected with it. Marin herself has already managed to fix a lot of things that Dad did in his time, who did not get out of the courts. As a result, she reached the second round of the presidential election and won a major victory in the parliamentary elections. Now, in order to get as far away from the cliche as possible, a new young face appears. In addition, Bardella loves to go on TV channels, where he is invited with pleasure, and in social networks he is generally his own person. The third version is that Marin decided to play the mise en scene of "good and bad policemen". Her doctrine is neither with the left nor with the right, we are on our own, we are above the fray. Therefore, Le Pen herself is always cautious when it comes to alliances, coalitions or agreements. Bardella is known for his views "to the right of the right". He was once friends with Frederic Chatillon, the leader of the far-right, almost racist student movement GUD, which was even dissolved. In his speeches, Bardell does not hesitate to talk about "the demographic bias that is observed everywhere in France," meaning that non-indigenous French are in the majority here and there. It is worth noting here that the ideology of National Unification is based on two main themes: immigration and national identity. The latter means that a French passport in your pocket does not mean anything yet, but roots mean everything. And if Marin is considered more of a defender of the first theory, then Jordan is inclined to defend identity. That is, he intends to fight the problem of the influx of foreigners who not only want to, but are already in France. In his first speech, he noted that the party needs a program "Patriotic Suburbs", which will cover education, entrepreneurship, culture, transport, housing and everything in general. Since 2023, he has been launching a new platform for training party cadres. Hence the fourth version. All these slogans, only in a more radical interpretation, were voiced during the presidential campaign by Eric Zemmur, a scandalous publicist who adheres to extreme right-wing views. He finished the fight for the Elysee Palace in fourth place, gaining 7 percent of the vote. It is unlikely that he will go to the next election, but two and a half million voters should not be missed. And here is just a new young and extreme right. However, more mature party colleagues believe that "if we become radicalized, we are finished. We will find ourselves back in the 80s, when we talked only about national identity." The main question that arises after the change of the party leadership is: "Who will now go to the presidential elections in 2027"? Bardell reassured the audience as follows: "Marine Le Pen has stated that she will run only in exceptional circumstances. But to lead a faction with 89 deputies is exceptional circumstances." What is it? Experienced party members also believe that Jordan needs to gain weight by winning some local elections, because now he is little known to anyone. The whole south of France is voting for National Unification, so there will be no big problems, and let the presidential ambitions ripen for now. "80 percent came to the party because of Marine Le Pen, so he doesn't even have his own team in the NO," say seasoned party members. "We will replace Macron," Bardell said nevertheless. But he did not specify who "we" were. It's a little early yet.

Truss is gone

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Britain has crossed the threshold of a government crisis. Elizabeth Truss has been on duty for less than 45 days. The neoliberal mini-budget that she proposed on September 23 turned out to be impossible. Its essence was to reduce taxes to the super-rich, enterprises and provide enormous support to almost everyone against the background of the energy crisis. This is, in principle, the same "helicopter money", and in rare cases they saved the situation. It was assumed that tax cuts would spur purchasing power, consumption would increase, production would come in time for it and the machine would spin. "The problem is that she planned to finance these measures with loans and the expected increase in production," says Rainbow Murray, a professor of political science at Queen Mary University of London, "but the markets reacted instantly and panicked." Inflation has exceeded an unprecedented 10 percent. The pound went into a protracted jump without a parachute. Domestic debt and interest rates on loans have conquered the peaks. "It seems to me that the level of arrogance and blindness of the Prime Minister reached such a level that she really thought that all this would be without consequences," Murray believes. "This economic crisis is just created artificially," says Will Jennings, a political scientist at the University of Southampton. – She even refused to listen to the advice of analytical institutes, such as the Bureau of Budget Responsibility. It got to the point that the IMF and even the heads of state – traditional allies - began to criticize Truss, which is generally rare in international relations. Joe Biden called the course of the British prime minister a "mistake", and the American magazine Atlantic qualified this fact as a "humiliation of Great Britain". Truss, in a panic, sacrificed a rook. On October 14, Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng resigned, just to calm the Conservative party, which has already begun calling for its leader to resign. The new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has already called a press conference on October 17, where he announced the funeral of the mini-budget. New taxes are being introduced – as much as 38 billion pounds, budget bills will be very serious. The markets immediately rebounded and the pound went up. It seemed like it was possible to exhale, but that same evening Truss gave an interview to the BBC, where she said that, of course, she was "very sorry", but was ready to "lead the Conservative party to the next general election." Three days later, she resigned. Who will replace him? The Conservatives will vote next week. At all costs, they need to avoid early general elections, which they will definitely lose at the moment. According to the latest polls, the Labor Party is going into a serious gap. They have 55 percent versus 23 percent for the Tories. And this is not mid term blues at all, but a real chasm that poses an edge question to the conservatives. "A few months ago, the Conservative Party seemed to have full control of the economic situation in the country," says Clemence Furton, professor at the French Institute of Political Sciences, "but now they have simply lost all their credibility." It is logical that the leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer, called for organizing and holding a general election immediately. But all this did not happen out of the blue, and not with the arrival of the Trails. "The party has been in power for 12 years," says Rainbow Murray. – They have exhausted themselves, they have no ideas. The same thing happened to Labour in the last years of Tony Blair's rule. Our economy is at a standstill and primarily because of the consequences associated with leaving the European Union. And so it was bad, and after Brexit it got even worse. The level of poverty is off the scale, and the country is shaking from strikes." "All our recent prime ministers have resigned because of Brexit," says Will Jennings. "Cameron lost the referendum. May could not bring the matter to mind, Johnson played with criticism of Brussels, Truss could not stand economic problems – she wanted to create an ultra-liberal "Singapore on the Thames", but the reality turned out to be more complicated." The British press noticed that Truss served in office for less than 45 days, but managed to become prime minister already under two monarchs. In fact, Winston Churchill served under two, and Stanley Baldwin served under three. Even the Conservatives themselves have no idea now who will lead their party. According to polls by the YouGov Institute of Public Opinion, 32 percent of party members are not against the return of Boris Johnson. 23 percent see Rishi Sunak as their leader. Among others, the familiar characters Penny Mordaunt and Ben Wallace appear – they did not have time to forget. The Conservatives simply do not have an undisputed leader now. If they start looking for him, the process may drag on for several months, and in no case should they now allow premature general elections, which will turn into a disaster for the Tories. The chairman of the organizing committee for the elections of the Conservative Party, Graham Brady, commenting on the situation, could not do without English humor: "According to the rules of our party, two candidates should be represented in the elections. Well, or one."

Referendum never ends

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Scotland wants to return to the issue of independence again. There is already a date – October 19, 2023. Although, it would seem, the referendum on the separation of Scotland was held in 2014 and ended with a disappointing result for supporters of independence: 55 percent against separation, 45 in favor. But the Scots are not giving up. Ayatollah Khamenei said: "The revolution never ends." Kim Il Sung, by the way, too. It's not that they study their works with a pencil in Scotland, but the idea of a referendum before victory is hovering here. Experts, in fact, see two ways out: 1. Independence wins. 2. The public once gets tired of political parties that endlessly promote this idea. After the lost referendum, it was decided to wait until the vote on leaving the EU was held in the UK and then go on the attack again. The fact is that if the majority of Britons voted for Brexit in 2016, then the Scots, with a majority of 62 percent, were just in favor of staying in a United Europe. Their votes were smeared in the general mass, but these figures became another reason to initiate a new referendum on independence. The ruling coalition – the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Scottish Greens –, which emerged as a result of local elections, considered that their success, plus the Brexit figures, give them, as they say here, a "cast-iron mandate" to hold a new expression of will and have already called it "Indiref2". But this requires the consent of Westminster. The First Minister of Scotland, she is also the head of the SNP, Nicola Sergen, wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister Johnson. "Neither you nor I," it said, "will ever come to a common opinion on Scottish independence. But I expect that a Democrat will find it unacceptable that the people of Scotland are not given the right to choose, given that a clear majority wants this referendum." Johnson answered in his usual manner. They say the referendum took place, but you yourself said that such an opportunity is given once in a generation, so wait for, say, 40 years, and every 8-10 years we will not return to this issue. Liz Truss, who replaced him, confirmed this decision. The claims of the British government to the referendum are mainly reduced to the fact that it did not receive clear and clear concepts: how an independent Scotland is going to solve issues with the currency or, for example, the pension provision of citizens who have worked for the Crown all their lives, how health care and education will be built, the system of combating the pandemic. In addition, if there is a sudden desire – and it will arise – to return to the EU, then the English-Scottish border will be as "rigid" as possible, London warned. It is clear that it will not be possible to approach the referendum directly, without the permission of the British government, so Scotland filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of the country. It met on October 11 and 12 to decide whether Scotland could hold its "Indyref2" without government permission. On one side of the scales lay the argument that Holyrood (the castle in Edinburgh, which is considered the seat of the local parliament) nothing stops inviting the people to express their will, while the vote for independence will not be binding. On the other hand, if the Scots vote "yes" in the referendum, that is, Scotland will hypothetically be able to gain independence, it will mean that the unwritten constitution of Britain will need to be amended. It will turn out that the issues that have hitherto been in the exclusive competence of Westminster will have to be given up. Now the Scottish Parliament, created only in 1999, has no special leverage over Westminster. He has at his disposal only the "30th section" of the Scotland Act, which is built on the principle of "everything that is not prohibited is allowed". But Holyrood cannot interfere with the competence of the UK government. Throughout its existence, it has applied the "30th section" 16 times - when issues related to the construction of railways or the reduction of the voting age in local elections. Nicola Sergen said that if the Supreme Court does not allow a new referendum, the coalition government will go the other way. The "30th section" will be forgotten and they will go to the next UK general election in 2024 only under the slogan: "Should Scotland become an independent state"? Thus, the vote will become a "de facto referendum". Approximately in the Catalan style. A representative of Westminster before the hearing in the Supreme Court said: "It would be better for the Scottish and British governments to work on solving joint tasks, rather than be puzzled by the issues of a new referendum." That is, it is clear that the Scottish approach to the issue is not acceptable for London, at least for today. Not only are the contours of a possible future compromise unclear, but even the circumstances under which such a bargain will be possible at all. By the way, the British election expert Professor John Curtis, after analyzing a dozen recent polls, revealed that if you remove the abstainers, then 49 percent are for independence now, and 51 percent are against. The hearing is over and the court has retired for a meeting that may take several weeks. "It is unlikely," says Akash Paun of the analytical group of the government Institute of Public Administration, "that the court will satisfy the claim of the SNP, but those who want Scotland to remain part of the Kingdom should not consider this a final victory." So it's natural. After all, the referendum never ends.

France has enough weapons for five days

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The arsenals of the seventh army of the world are not designed for war. This was shown by NATO exercises and expert assessments. Five years ago, the French army ranked second in Europe after Russia. Military power was determined by the specialized American Internet portal Global Firepower, which, by the way, took as its slogan a quote from the British philosopher Bertrand Russell: "War does not determine who was right. And the one who lost it." The conclusions of American researchers suggest that even in the 30s France will be among the five world military powers. Now it is the seventh in the global top and is located between South Korea and the UK. The conflict in Ukraine has exposed amazing ulcers. "Yes, we do not supply so many weapons to the conflict zone. Just because we don't have enough ourselves. We cannot remain unarmed." This conclusion was reached by the head of the budget committee on defense of the French Parliament, Francois Cornu-Gentil. "The country has found itself with almost empty arsenals since the beginning of hostilities. What should we send there if we have nothing to supply our own army with?" It is difficult to understand what exactly and how much France is sending to Ukraine. Everything is open in the USA, but here all information on this issue is classified. Emmanuel Macaron announced that France had sent 18 Caesar artillery units with a range of up to 40 kilometers to Ukraine. And for small things – armor, helmets, medical preparations… And according to the calculations of the Secretary of the Defense Commission of the French Senate, Helene Conway-Mouret, the total price of the issue, including humanitarian aid, is 4 billion euros. The problem is that 18 Caesars are a quarter of all long–range guns in France. "Our country, of course, holds a high bar for equipping the land, air and naval forces," said Elie Tentelbaum, director of the Center for the Study of Strategic Issues at the French Institute of International Relations. – But we have been noting since the 90s that our defense power does not meet modern requirements at all. Since the end of the cold war, we have begun to disarm so actively that now we do not even have time to replenish our stocks. As our former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius used to say: "And now we are receiving dividends from the world." In 1991, we had 1,350 tanks. Now it is 220. From 700 aircraft, 250 remained. The defense budget during the Cold War was 4 percent of GDP, and already under Sarkozy it was less than 1 percent. And this is despite the fact that the strength of the French army has been reduced by a third, not four times." At the same time, parliamentarian Francois Cornu-Gentil believes: "France missed the stage when all countries started developing drones. For some reason, neither the Ministry of Defense nor industrialists were interested in this topic. Everyone thought it was some kind of toy, and drones changed the whole physiognomy of the modern battlefield." The former commander-in-chief of NATO forces, Jean-Paul Palameros, a Frenchman, by the way, has always insisted that the Europeans bring their defense budgets to at least 2 percent of their GDP. It didn't pass. Because no one seriously imagined the emergence of global conflicts. Regional – yes, as many as you want. But not to rearm the whole thing because of this. "Of course, we are modernizing our army," says Eli Tentelbaum, "we have replaced one nuclear submarine, the ground forces have received new infantry fighting vehicles under the Scorpion program, the air force has purchased several new Rafale aircraft, but all these are cosmetic operations, nothing more." "In our understanding of the war and in our concept of the armed forces, there has never even been a term of global military operations, we have considered only interstate clashes," said MEP Arnaud Danjan. "The risk of some global conflicts was considered quite remote, although Russia was considered as a possible participant." Then, of course, there was a lot of talk about increasing the defense budget, which ended in nothing. The French Parliament, having taken care of this problem, instructed the relevant committee to prepare a report. The speaker Jean-Louis Thieriot did not hide anything: "In the case of long-term hostilities, we will not last. We will be idle for a few weeks at best, then problems will begin." Last year, two NATO exercises were held, the meaning of which is to find out how much it is possible to resist anyone at all. The first exercise, Warfighter, was organized by the United States and Great Britain to test the combat capability of the ground forces. The second, Polaris 21, was supposed to cheer up aviation and the Navy. The results of Warfighter showed that during the first hypothetical week of clashes, France loses from 800 to 1,000 fighters and all ammunition in general. The analyses of the Polaris 21 exercises, as Jean-Louis Theriot says, are generally terrible: "400 of our sailors die at once. During the first 15 minutes of the clash, two of our frigates sink and two more turn out to be incapacitated. French aviation ceases to exist on the fifth day of the conflict." Conflict. And in France it does not exist, and the French defense industry does not keep up with the regulations for the supply of equipment and ammunition at all. "From ordering, say, a 155 mm projectile to receiving it in the troops, we have to wait a year. The rocket is three years old, the Rafale plane is four years old," says the report by Jean-Louis Thieriot. It is clear, of course, that behind all these terrible stories there is a lobby that wants more, and even better – much more money. But all these reports do not cancel the main thing. People who are responsible for replenishing the budget know one mantra: "We have one button."

Four Jokers of Liz Truss

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The new Prime Minister of Great Britain announced the composition of the Government. Liz Truss officially became Prime Minister with the Queen's consent on September 6. For the blessing, I had to fly in the morning to Scotland, where Elizabeth II is spending her vacation, and in the afternoon, returning to London, I had to start forming a new government. However, for sure, even before the announcement of the results, the applicants knew who would be "hu". Truss decided to make the structure of her government easier, not in the "presidential" style. That is, ministers will get more initiative and more freedom of action. Consequently, the Downing Street apparatus will be more compact and lightweight, as was Thatcher's. Johnson, for example, preferred to recruit bulky, expensive teams and Routes, even as Foreign Minister, always believed that "there are too many of us here." In any case, her colleagues from the election campaign noted: "Liz wants to do maybe less, but better." "Liz always fights to the end, never rests on her laurels, does not believe that something will fall for nothing from above. She will control everything from above, giving ministers more freedom, let them go about their business. That is, she will try to do away with outdated groupthink," her colleagues from her team believe. Suella Braverman, who served as the country's Attorney General, was appointed Interior Minister. She also put up her candidacy for the post of prime minister, but was defeated in the second round of voting. She is a popular figure on the Tory right wing and a member of the so–called "Spartan" group, which voted three times against Theresa May's Brexit option, which led to her resignation and the victory of the tougher option proposed by Johnson. One of the tasks assigned to the Minister is, first of all, to end illegal migration from across the English Channel. It should be recalled here that Britain has accepted and is trying to implement the idea of sending all migrants to Rwanda before their case is considered, and they agree there. This hard line was invented by Braverman's predecessor as minister, and Truss hopes that Britain will not turn away from it, despite vigorous opposition. Braverman took a tough position on the issue of teaching schoolchildren the theory of the possibility of gender reassignment, saying that in junior and middle grades it is generally unacceptable, and what to tell the elders – it should be decided by the Ministry of Education. During the referendum on leaving the EU, Truss voted "against". And then she not only defected to the camp of the Brexiteers, but also advocated the abolition of the Protocol on Northern Ireland. It assumed an accelerated procedure for customs inspection of goods between the EU, which includes the Republic of Ireland, and Northerners entering the United Kingdom. Now Northern Irish customs officers will be able to determine for themselves whether to apply British duties or not. Here the Prime Minister and the new Interior Minister have complete unanimity. James Cleverley has been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. He worked at the Foreign Ministry for two years with Truss, until Johnson transferred him to the Ministry of Education. For the last few months, before the almost universal resignation of ministers, he worked as Minister for European Affairs and his competence included issues of Ukraine. Therefore, Truss felt that this experience would be more useful in the near future than ever. But not only for this. Cleverley led the Conservative Party itself for a while. And Truss expects that her colleague will help her prepare for the general elections, which will be held in early 2025. This is a serious task, since Truss won the party elections, relying on the right wing of the right. And universal is a completely different matter. All Britons will choose there and the Labour Party will have to resist, not just their party colleagues. Quasi Kvarteng went for a promotion. He became the Minister of Finance, and in the Ministry of Finance he worked as a business secretary. Here, for the first time in many years, there is a complete coincidence of ideas between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Treasury. He is a convinced marketeer. Just like Truss, he is skeptical about the idea of imposing unexpected fees on energy firms instead of hard ones, and also believes that tax cuts for everyone will stimulate the economy and, as a result, increase living standards. The defense will be led by Ben Wallace. Actually, he remains at his post. He is very popular in the party, even to the point that he was considered the favorite in the fight for the prime minister's seat. But almost immediately he refused this mission. In principle, if the need arises, he can also be appointed deputy Truss, since Wallace is one of the most powerful ministers in the cabinet. He is known for taking a very tough anti-Russian position, as, indeed, Liz Truss. Both before and after February 24, Wallace pushed the idea of arming Ukraine, and even together with Truss, they had a conflict with the then Finance Minister Sunak. They asked to increase defense spending by 3 percent. During Truss' first speech as prime minister, rain poured down. Unexpected for London. But she was not at a loss: "Britain will withstand any storm. It will build, work and grow."

Far-right may take power in Italy

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Early parliamentary elections in Italy are scheduled for September 25. After Mario Draghi's resignation, the chair of the Chairman of the Council of Ministers remains vacant and will be occupied – this is how the system works – by the head of the party who wins the parliamentary elections. Now, at the very beginning of the race, the leader, judging by the polls, is the party "Brothers of Italy". And their sister, George Meloni, will lead them to victory. "I am a woman, a mother, an Italian and a Christian, and no one will take that away from me," she repeats such a political mantra at her rallies. It would seem that if 70 offices have been replaced in Italy over the past 75 years, then it would be possible to skip this event. But, firstly, Meloni heads a party of the extreme right, which is considered post-fascist, and secondly, the Italian government has never been led by a woman. So about the post-fascists. They are everywhere in Europe. In France, their leader has already been in the second round of presidential elections for the umpteenth time, in Austria they have already been in power, in Greece, Golden Dawn felt comfortable in parliament. And nothing, only the name and an unpleasant train remained. Therefore, like Marine Le Pen at the time, Meloni began by ridding her party of the stereotypical image of people in breeches and boots. It is possible to call the "Brothers of Italy" fascists in principle, but even the European press prefers the term post-fascists. This movement was born on the ruins of the "Italian Social Movement", which in turn was created by Mussolini's followers. In addition, the movement's coat of arms – a torch of the colors of the Italian flag – resembles fascist logos. However, almost all of the extreme right in Europe have such. There is also a party newspaper that allows itself ambiguous statements. There are also fans of the Duce. But no one goes with torches. The Brothers are the only party not included in Draghi's coalition and have been in opposition since February 2021. Therefore, "whatever happened in Italy, any troubles and discontent, everything went to the benefit of the Brothers of Italy," says Marc Lazard, a historian and analyst at the French Institute of Syans Po. "That is why they have achieved significant success in local elections and now it is one of the leading political forces in the country." And that's true. Meloni managed to surround herself with highly respected politicians from the right flank, emphasized her roots – from the proletariat – plus a serious attitude to business, and she is also a strong-willed woman. The whole mix worked perfectly. The "brothers" won more in the local elections than they expected, and they counted on the southern regions. They also dealt a serious blow to the north, where the "League of the North" traditionally dominates, and took Palermo, which has been permanently left for 40 years, with battles. The sister herself "was an activist of the post-fascist party in her youth," says Piero Ignazzi, an honorary professor at the University of Bologna and a specialist in the right–wing movement. – But she built her program in such a way that there was a place for these ideas in it. Moreover, she managed to link them with conservative and neoliberal elements, for example, freedom of entrepreneurship or the ability to dismiss employees without conditions that are enslaving for the enterprise."  Meloni does not hide the coincidence of views with Viktor Orban, the Spanish nationalist movement Vox or the French National Association. She is even willingly compared to Marion Marechal-Le Pen, the granddaughter of the founder of the party. Relations with the American right are also established. That is, the basis of the program is economic liberalism, social conservatism, natalist policy: encouraging fertility, anti–Muslim, anti-Gypsy, anti-immigration orientation of domestic policy. Support for traditional right-wing values. The party wants to position itself as a guarantor of the traditions and national identity of Italians. They promise to open a free nursery, return a family allowance of 400 euros, not recognize same-sex marriages and the rights of the LGBT community. And the main thing is to finally stop letting Libyans into the country. This is a separate item. The "Brothers of Italy" have left the positions of Eurosceptics and do not demand an exit from the European Union and the eurozone, claiming that they are more inclined to the principle of "Europe of Nations". Of course, Draghi once bargained 200 billion euros from the European Union to restart Italy's economic engine. This manna is needed in order to avoid a recession, which can lead to an increase in inflation and in order to overcome the consequences of strong energy dependence on Russia. But Draghi knocked out this money for certain reforms. The European diplomat who handled this dossier believes that "if 70 percent of the promised reforms are not implemented by the end of 2022, Italy will lose tens of billions of euros." "Besides, it is not clear how things will be with the supply of weapons to Ukraine," continues French political analyst Marc Lazar. "The Brothers of Italy fully accepted the position of the West and condemned Russia. Berlusconi had a special relationship with Putin, Draghi nevertheless decided to participate in the supply of weapons. How will the "Brothers" behave? And the main thing is a right–centrist coalition." Truly. Italy's electoral system is built in such a way that the country can be governed by a coalition. "Now we are talking about a right-centrist coalition," says Mark Lazar, "these are Forza Italia, the Northern League and the Brothers of Italy. Together, they have the most chances to bypass the Democratic Party and the 5-Star Movement, which will undoubtedly advance independently. The current right–wing coalition is a powerful electoral machine. But their differences will begin as soon as it comes to the specific leadership of the country." Meloni and her entourage believe that the elections are practically in their pocket. Now they have 24 percent, the Democrats have 22, the League is in third place with 14 percent. The "brothers" are counting on the disillusioned followers of Berlusconi and Salvini to join them, and a coalition with two right-wing parties is obvious, especially since Forza and the League have been finding a common language for a long time, and a strong new leader will only benefit them. At the same time, we recall that Meloni was not included in the coalition of the Draghi government. And there was already another nationalist party, Matteo Salvini's League. Will there be a "response" now? There are really strained competitive relations between them and so far neither one nor the other is ready for compromises. But now, specifically at the beginning of August, the advantage in the Meloni–Salvini battle is clearly on Meloni's side. The headlines of Italian newspapers are something like this: "A patriot who fights every day for what she believes in...". There is also an element of luck. The campaign turns out to be short – 2 months, and even then half will have to be on vacation, so it will be difficult to "smear public opinion in time" and then change it.

Generals of Eternal Career

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The juntas of the countries of West Africa, it seems, are not going to leave Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso have suffered four coups in less than the last two years. The Community of West African States, ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African Countries), is scared, and for good reason, by the prospect that the example may be contagious. The organization is trying by all means to push the generals who have been sitting in their chairs to transfer power to democratic governments, without excluding coercive measures. As a rule, the military, coming to power, announced that they were here for a short time. Literally bring order to the country. Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya has been in charge of Guinea since September 2021. This amazing character was appointed by former President Conde as the commander of the Special Forces troops. To do this, he was called from abroad and given the rank of lieutenant colonel. And before that, he did not serve in the Guinean army at all, but history knows similar examples. Doumbouya received his education in France, in the Foreign Legion, then appeared in Israel, then in Senegal and Gabon. He is married to a Frenchwoman, the father of three children, for which he is called an "atypical military man." As usual in the region, he also overthrew the president of the country, Alpha Conde, who appointed him. First of all, he promised to return civil power to Guinea. To begin with, political figures and representatives of the country's civil society were invited to the conversation. A "Transitional Charter" was drawn up, the program of which includes the development of a new Constitution and the holding of "free, democratic and transparent elections." At the same time, none of the participants in the transition process – neither military nor civilian – has the right to stand for future elections at any level. No renegotiation is allowed. And then the previous president introduced an amendment that allowed him to run for a third term, which caused unrest in the country. The text mentions human rights countless times and promises that at least a third of women will be in all government bodies. And no "witch hunt". But until this reign of democracy has arrived, Colonel Dumbuya heads the National Reconciliation and Development Committee. He is also at the head of the National Council of the Transitional Period, this is the legislative body. He also appoints a civilian prime minister.  At the same time, the Charter does not say anything about, in fact, the duration of the transition period. It "will be determined as a result of an agreement between the living forces of the nation and the National Reconciliation and Development Committee," the text says. Then there was a clarification – the figure "three years" sounded semi-officially. But ECOWAS considered that it was probably a long time, but 24 months would be quite enough. And in this case, Guinea will be able to avoid such tough sanctions as were imposed against Mali, for example. Nothing is yet known about the current leader's further political ambitions. The Guineans themselves do not exactly support him, but rather hope that the promises will come true. The West expresses the same cautious wishes. But where this transition period will lead the country is not very clear. Oswald Panado, a political scientist and expert in the field of international relations, writes on the pages of the Young Africa magazine published in Paris: "The promises of the military, who are not prepared for the leadership of the state, are always broken on the rocks of harsh political realities." The situation in Burkina Faso is very similar. The local junta overthrew the acting president as a result of popular unrest, that is, at the request of the workers. Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who became the head of state, was specific: the transition period will last three years, the constitutional order will be restored in 2025. As long as I'm in power. The Transitional Charter, as in the case of Guinea, was worked out with the participation of parties, trade unions, representatives of civil society, youth, women and victims of jihadists. But how to conduct democratic elections? The peculiarity of this power is that even according to official statistics, 40 percent of its territory is not controlled by the state. Since 2015, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups have been operating in Burkina Faso*. The result is thousands of dead and almost 2 million refugees. By the way, the January coup itself was a protest against the inaction of the authorities, hence the "requests of the workers." But ECOWAS did not take into account these seemingly just popular demands. Burkina Faso's participation in the organization was suspended because the military came to power, and they, according to ECOWAS, are not always in a hurry to transfer power. Nevertheless, the organization agreed with the Charter's provision, which states that the Prime Minister will necessarily be a civilian, the transitional Government will consist of 25 ministers and neither the head of the Cabinet nor these ministers will be able to nominate their candidates for future authorities. After signing the Charter, negotiations between ECOWAS and the Burkinis began, and as a result, it was possible to reduce the transition period to two years, so theoretically it remains to wait until 2024. In Mali, one coup was not enough. No promises of change were believed here. The signed Settlement Agreement of 2021, exhausted by the political struggle and the lack of any guarantees for the security of the people, is at the stage of its last breath. The new government was supposed to weaken the role of the military in the leadership of the country. But it lasted only a few hours. The events unfolded like in a movie. The former prime minister managed to tell Agence France-Presse by phone: "I can confirm that Goita's people came to me to take me to his residence." At this point, the conversation was interrupted by short beeps, the prime minister is still in the camp, and Goita became vice-president for the transition period. And yet, recently, ECOWAS has managed to achieve some progress in negotiations with Bamako. Presidential elections will be held in 2024, that is, the initially announced five-year transition period is no longer relevant. It remains to convince the Malians that the head of state cannot be a military man. There are still disagreements here. Two characters who are considered "moderate" have been appointed to the new government, and to two key posts – the Ministries of Defense and Security. In other words, "fewer than others who participated in the 2020 coup." All this allowed ECOWAS to ease the financial and economic sanctions imposed against Mali. However, the military still make up the majority in the leadership at all levels. Mali is turning into a center of jihadism in West Africa, especially since the French have announced the end of their operation "Barkhan" and the withdrawal of their units. Even after the appearance of weak signs of at least some movement, Emmanuel Macron still prefers to keep his distance and refrain from comments. * Organizations banned in the Russian Federation

Johnson is stepping down as Conservative leader

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text Persuaded for two days. Since Wednesday evening, cars with ministers and high–ranking functionaries of the Conservative Party have been approaching the Prime Minister's London residence with one goal - to convince Boris Johnson to resign after a scandal that overflowed the scales that usually pulls down. How would they not pull the whole party with them! Even Nadim Zahavi came to persuade, who was appointed finance minister just a day before the events to replace Rishi Sunak, who resigned. And in just two days, almost 60 members of the government resigned. There is no mistake. There were–now–116 people in Johnson's office. Unlike, say, the French government, where there are 40 ministers and each is responsible for his own direction, in the British one it is always crowded. It's just that there are ministers of the first plan and there are a host of secretaries of state, their deputies and other high-ranking functionaries who are not on the front line, but are still formally members of the government. The reason for the resignation was not just another scandal that broke out at the beginning of the week with Christopher Pinscher, which we have already written about. He just held the same position of the second plan – he was responsible for the discipline of conservative deputies in parliament, but he himself violated it by walking around in the capital's "Carlton Club", where he let his hands loose against male colleagues, having, apparently, had too much single malt. Johnson stated that he did not know about such inclinations of a member of his government. But he was reminded: he had known since 2019. Which means he lied. The reason was the system. The gradual accumulation of scandalous situations, which each separately cost a vote of no confidence. Christmas fun at the official residence in Downing Street during the pandemic. Repairs in the same place with an off-scale price tag. A series of sexual scandals involving party comrades. Well, and relaxed gatherings without masks in the courtyard with wine, while compatriots had the right to one walk a day, and most importantly, when all pubs are closed! Shocking! As a result, I had to leave "the best job in the world," as Johnson himself stated. After resigning as Tory leader, he will leave the post of prime minister in the autumn. The leader of the ruling party auomatically becomes Prime Minister. It remains to choose a new leader. How will this happen? Only members of Parliament can be candidates. Each candidate must enlist the support of at least two deputies. Then the conservatives vote according to the playoff system, that is, against - through, and as a result there are two finalists. Then a leader is chosen by universal suffrage. This whole procedure will be delayed until the autumn and Boris Johnson will remain Prime minister during this time. Who is being read in Downing Street? Ben Wallace, 52, Secretary of Defense. He constantly evaded the question of whether he was capable of leading the party, and the party considers him a very competent politician. According to the polls of the YouGov sociological institute, which surveyed members of the Conservative Party, he will win the party elections by a large margin. Wallace did not resign on the general wave in the last days for the cabinet and supported Johnson. Penny Mordaunt, 49, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade. She has been an active participant in the campaign for leaving the EU since 2016. The first female Minister of Defense of the Kingdom, but when Johnson came to power, she left this post. A Royal Navy reservist, however. A wonderful speaker and very respected by fellow party members. According to a YouGov poll, he is in second place after Wallace among possible successors. Rishi Sunak, 42, Finance Minister, the first to resign after the publication of the "Pinscher case". Actually, he was considered the favorite, but some fiscal problems surfaced with his richest wife, and against the background of the fall in the purchasing power of the people, this, frankly speaking, is not a trump card. Sunak worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, then went into private speculative funds. Since 2015, the deputy, also a Brexit activist, has been finance minister for two years, but recently he has been getting a lot for price increases. Liz Truss, 46, Minister of Foreign Affairs. She got this post in recognition of her success as the head of the foreign trade department. I have always been in favor of free trade and voted for continued membership in the European Union, when I suddenly went to the opposite camp and even prepared several trade projects already in the post-Brexit era. She is loved by the party grassroots. They respect her for her tough stance on the issue of EU–Northern Ireland relations - she is in favor of breaking the relevant agreement with the EU, as well as for an equally tough line regarding the events in Ukraine. By the way, the outgoing Prime Minister himself noted in his speech that he hopes that the line maintained by Britain towards Russia will remain the same. The Kremlin replied: "He doesn't like us, and we don't like him" and hoped that professionals would come to replace the leadership of the United Kingdom. Britain's policy towards the Russian-Ukrainian conflict cannot change with the arrival of a new leadership, if only because it acts as a united front as part of the collective West. Maybe the successor will not treat Russia as fiercely as Johnson, but this will not change the general approach.

Ministers run away from Johnson's cabinet

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The scandal erupted from where they were waiting. Another high-ranking employee of the Cabinet of Ministers of Great Britain got into trouble. Chris Pincher at a party in London's private "Carlton Club" hugged, let's say, not fraternally with two other men, and one of them is a member of parliament. And even in front of witnesses. The victims wrote to the party committee. Unofficially, the position of the Pinscher is called "senior deputy for the whip," and officially he should monitor the discipline of deputies from the Conservative Party, but the discipline itself is lame. During the sprinkling of ashes on his head, Pincher said that he "drank too much," but this is not even an excuse for them. Then two key ministers resigned – Rishi Sunak, the Finance Minister, and Majid Javid, the head of the Ministry of Health. Interestingly, Sunak, an Iraqi Kurd, came to Britain with his family without knowing a word of English. He succeeded at first in business, and then began his career in the camp of the Conservative Party. He became a member of parliament in 2010 and gained popularity among new compatriots during the pandemic, being one of those responsible for vaccination. Then a series of resignations of more or less significant cabinet figures began. And the vice-president of the Conservative party, Bim Afolami, effectively announced his resignation on live television and called on Johnson to follow his example, since he "lost the trust of the party and the people." But the essence of the series of resignations is not that the functionary who had gone over his hands, you never know ... but that Johnson, appointing him to the post at the time, knew about his non-standard behavior. At first, Downing Street generally refused, but after a former senior Foreign Ministry official recalled that Pinscher had been doing this for a long time, they said that we had "forgotten" about this detail when we were appointed. Therefore, in all resignation petitions, the main argument is the loss of confidence in the prime minister. "I'm sorry, but it's obvious to me that the situation cannot change under your management," Javid tweets. At the same time, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Internal Affairs declared their full support for Johnson. And a replacement has already been found for those who have resigned. The British press has unleashed more than just all the dogs on Bowdzhou – the nickname of the prime minister. Selected the most creepy and evil. English irony is not easy to convey, but here, for example, the newspaper "Sun": "During the Judgment Day, which has already come, the prime minister was stabbed with a knife." Or the Guardian: "It's just all clear. Actually, one question is interesting – when and how will he resign?". "Boris can, of course, hold out for a few more hours if he so pleases," Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen says in an interview with Sky News, "but it's better to finish the job before the summer holidays and go on vacation already." The YouGov Institute of Public Opinion immediately conducted a poll showing that 69 percent of Britons think Johnson should leave. A series of scandals in the party of power on this very ground was thus supplemented by another episode. One unnamed parliamentarian was suspected of rape, was arrested, but released on bail in mid-May. Another watched porn on the phone a month earlier right in the House of Commons, the third, already former, received a year and a half for raping a 15-year-old teenager. After the last two cases, the head of the Conservatives, Oliver Dowden, resigned and partial parliamentary elections were held. Not to mention the famous scandalous Christmas party at the Prime Minister's residence, where during the pandemic the Prime minister dances with a certain partner. Moreover, this dancing looks quite comical, but Johnson is far from dancing to his predecessor Theresa May. However, this is not their job. Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister, in his resignation letter noted, among other things, that: "There are serious fundamental differences with the Prime Minister" on economic issues, in particular, when preparing a speech on the economic state of the country, which is supposed to be made next week. Britain has just been hit by a serious strike by transport workers, the largest in the last 30 years. It affected 40,000 employees – that's 80 percent of the staff. The union has received information that thousands of people will soon be out of work. In 2021, prices in the UK increased by 9 percent – the sharpest jump in the last 40 years. And according to the forecasts of the Bank of England, by autumn they will grow by another 11 percent. The reason lies, of course, not in Johnson and not in his subordinates who are unable to control themselves, but in the rise in energy prices. Unlike France, where a significant part of the energy market is covered by nuclear power, Britain is seriously dependent on gas prices. But there is nothing to explain. But as for the actions of the government, there are claims against it. For several weeks it resisted the introduction of a tax on the excess profits of oil and gas giants, which were formed due to a jump in prices. In mid-May, they finally agreed, but this, according to the British press, was in order to distract attention from the discussion of the prime minister's Christmas fun during the pandemic. In the near future, the strike movement in Britain will only expand. There are three sectors next in line: education, healthcare and mail.  Lawyers will follow them. They do not agree on the extent to which the state is going to finance legal aid to the poor. That is, with what fees from the state they will receive for defending people in the courts who are unable to pay for a private lawyer. But the most serious tests will come, as usual, from heaven. The airline sector was severely affected during the pandemic. A lot of employees have been dismissed, hundreds of flights have been canceled. Now the Irish charter carrier Ryanair is on strike all over Europe, and the British IziDget is preparing to join in July. Their services are used by the whole of Europe. The British satirical magazine Private eye issued a weather forecast map on the cover: "Inflation and strikes are expected, a cyclone from Northern Ireland will bring high pressure associated with disagreements over post-Brexit. It will be very hot after the showdown of the Prime Minister's actions. So thunderstorms are very possible."

It is necessary for NATO

Note: this is a machine translation from the original Russian text The Alliance asked Spain to strain. On January 22, the Spanish frigate Blas de Leso left the port of Ferrol in Galicia and headed towards the Black Sea. On board the flagship of the Spanish fleet with a length of 146 meters – 220 sailors and officers. The vessel is packed with SPY-1D radars and Aegis air defense systems. All this stuff has been put forward for NATO naval exercises. A few days earlier, the Spanish minesweeper Meteoro left the port of Las Palmas in the Canaries and joined another NATO naval group that patrols the coasts of Bulgaria and Romania. In February, six Eurofighter fighters flew from Spain to Bulgaria. When the Spanish Defense Minister announced all these maneuvers, the Iberian Iberian Kingdom began to boil. The Podemos party, which is part of the ruling coalition together with the Socialists, firmly stands on anti-war positions. It got to the point that she refused to take part in the celebrations dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the country's accession to NATO. Equality Minister and party member Irene Montero stated the following: Podemos not only does not accept the increase in maneuvers of our ships and aircraft in these zones, but also believes that the expansion of NATO at the expense of Ukraine and Georgia in the interests of the United States makes no sense." In the communique, she recalled that "Spain remains an anti-war country." This was the slogan of the demonstrations of 2003, when the then Prime Minister Asnar decided to participate in military operations in Iraq. And then, at the just-ended Madrid NATO summit, the following happens. According to the calculations of the North Atlantic Alliance, Spain's defense spending amounts to $ 13.035 billion, that is, 1.01 percent of GDP. This is a mess. Expenses, according to the NATO Charter, should be 2 percent of GDP. This decision was made in 2014, at the summit in Wales. That is, the Spanish budget will have to double defense spending, namely, to find an additional $ 12.8 billion. Well, in order to feel this already "pleasant" news even more acutely, fully assume all the costs of the last Madrid summit. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at a press conference: "Spain has set itself a goal - to achieve the task by 2029 – and I will work with all political forces to get their support." The prime minister did not have time to finish the sentence, as Podemos declared that it would not support anything like that. Moreover, NATO's calculations are based on 2015 prices, and at present the country spends 14.8 billion. Spain, with its 1.01 percent, is among the three NATO countries contributing the least to the cash register. Luxembourg, which has 0.58 percent of GDP, and Iceland, which has no armed forces at all, fit on this "inverted pedestal". Curiously, only 7 out of 30 NATO countries pay more than the agreed 2 percent. These are the three Baltic powers, Croatia, Poland, which overpays 2.5 billion, Greece, and the United Kingdom. Such alliance locomotives as Germany (– 20 billion) or France (– 2.7 billion) also do not give enough to the treasury, but they have not yet been presented with anything. Although there are quite tricky and complex calculations. NATO membership costs $624 to every German, and $ 734 to every Frenchman. Spaniards pay the least – $275 per nose. Spain is not the most active participant in NATO operations. The most soldiers were sent to Afghanistan – 1,523 people, and the least – to Kosovo – 1 observer (Spain does not recognize the independence of Kosovo). Basically, the kingdom provides the allies with infrastructure. The General Staff of the Land Forces in Betera, this is Valencia, the General Staff and the Navy training Center in the Company that is opposite the fortress of Cadiz in the southwest of the country, right on the Atlantic (that's where you don't want to be demobbed from!), part of the air base in Torrejon, the Air Force command in southern Europe will be mixed there. At one time, the Spaniards were attached to the international battalion "Adagio" in Latvia, it is commanded by Canada. 350 fighters serve there. There is a battery of "Patriots" in Turkey, which is designed mainly to observe Syria, and to carry out sea and air patrols in Lithuania, Estonia and Romania. NATO regulations prescribe what and how to spend from national defense budgets. Spain has everything in order here: 26 percent for equipment, and 2.5 billion for the military bureaucracy in Brussels and elsewhere. Doubling the military budget will not be easy for Spain. For comparison: since 2014, when the decision was made on 2 percent of GDP, the country has increased it by 0.1 percent. But then it will be even more difficult. First, as Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned, "This is not a ceiling, rather we are moving towards the floor. In the context of the events of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, this threshold will increase." Secondly, Spain sets the task of GDP growth, which means that the cost of military service will grow in direct proportion. How the prime minister or his replacement will convince the population that NATO needs it is not very clear. On the eve of the Madrid summit, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Alvarez said in an interview with French Figaro: "The meeting, of course, should give an answer to the challenge from the East, but we are waiting for decisions on the southern flank, and this should be reflected in the Strategic Concept of NATO." What's the southern flank? Retired General Jose Enrique de Ayala, an analyst at the Alternatives Foundation, explains: "This term has been launched in NATO for a long time. It was invented to contrast the threat from the East, against which NATO was created." This is the fight against hybrid threats coming from the South – cybersecurity, juggling threats of energy or migration flows for political purposes, jihadism. Spain, with the support of Italy, spoke at the summit in favor of strengthening NATO's presence in the southern direction – in North Africa and the Sahel, while not excluding the alliance's actions in Mali, a hotbed of terrorism and jihadism. But the Strategic Concept of NATO still considers migration and terrorism on the southern flank as new potential sources of instability, which are worth watching.