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Extra! La Vanguardia: 'Spectacular' Catalan Independence Rally

Some 800,000 Catalans used Sunday's annual La Diada, national day in Catalonia, to renew demands for independence from Spain. "Another spectacular Diada," read Monday morning's front-page headline of the Barcelona-based La Vanguardia daily.

The newspaper noted the separatists' determination to achieve independence, with Catalonia's regional president Carles Puigdemont proposing that the government hold a secession referendum.

Participants on Sunday gathered in five towns and cities of the northeastern region — Barcelona, Lleida, Tarragona and Salt — to commemorate the defeat of the Siege of Barcelona by the French-Spanish troops during the Spanish civil war in 1714.

The latest drive for independence began in 2012, when Madrid refused to discuss increased economic autonomy for the region. Catalans feel too much of their tax money is invested in other parts of the country and that the Spanish state is unsympathetic to their culture and language. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has repeatedly made it clear that he will not allow a referendum, is in the midst of his own political crisis, unable to find enough support to form a ruling majority.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Paris-Berlin, Warsaw-Kyiv: Europe's Balance Of Power Will Never Be The Same

A new future is unfolding in real time, one that leaders in France, Germany and beyond could not have envisioned even a year ago.

Photo of Bundeswehr soldiers in Lest, Slovakia, with a training anti-tank missile and a G22 sniper rifle.

Bundeswehr soldiers in Lest, Slovakia, with a training anti-tank missile and a G22 sniper rifle.

Kay Nietfeld/dpa via ZUMA
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Quick question: do you know which country is on its way to having the largest army in Europe? The obvious answer would be France, the Continent's only nuclear power since the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, and a military that has been tested in multiple foreign operations in recent years.

But the answer is about to change: if we put aside the nuclear factor, Europe's leading military will soon be that of Poland.

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This is one more direct consequence Russia's invasion of Ukraine: a close neighbor of the conflict zone, Poland is investing massively in its defense. Last year, it concluded a huge arms purchase contract with South Korea: heavy combat tanks (four times more than France), artillery, fighter jets, for 15 billion euros.

Warsaw also signed a contract last month to purchase two observation satellites from France for 500 million euros.

This former country of the Warsaw Pact, today a leading NATO member, intends to be ever more consequential in European affairs. The investments in defense are one way of doing that. Yet this is not the only impact of the war in Ukraine.

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