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Separatists Win Catalan Election

Separatists Win Catalan Election

La Vanguardia, Sept. 28, 2015

"The ‘yes' prevails," the Barcelona-based daily La Vanguardia titled Monday, as pro-independence movements won the absolute majority in regional elections in Catalonia. The landmark victory is seen by separatists as a de facto independence referendum in favor of the northern region breaking away from Spain.

The "Junts pel Sí" ("Together for Yes") list, the main separatist coalition, won 62 seats, and the "Candidatura d'Unitat Popular" ("Popular Unity Candidacy") movement won 10. Together, their 72 seats exceeds the 68 out of 135 required to form a parliamentary majority.

Their rivals, however, refused to recognize their victory, seeing as they failed to get a majority of votes. The separatist parties fell just short of getting 50% of the vote, winning 1.9 million out of 4 million ballots cast. The spokesperson for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's People's Party Pablo Casado said that "this election should serve to end the independence debate once and for all."

Catalan regional President Artur Mas clearly disagreed. "We won," he told a cheering crowd after the election Sunday. "Today was a double victory, the yes side won, as did democracy." Mas has pledged to lead Catalonia towards independence from Spain by 2017 at the latest.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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