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U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and European Council President Donald Tusk. Photo: Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP

The United Kingdom and the European Union announced a last-minute "breakthrough" deal on the first phase of Brexit negotiations this morning, per the BBC. The deal ensures there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland — which had derailed the talks earlier this week — guarantees the rights of E.U. citizens in the U.K. (and vice versa), and agrees on the financial terms for the U.K.'s exit from the E.U.

Why it matters: It allows both parties to move onto the critical "phase two" of Brexit discussions and gives Prime Minister Theresa May political cover for her leadership back home. But "phase two" centers around trade negotiations, which is likely to be an even more contentious issue in the months to come.

Go deeper

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Trump’s friends worry legal pick for N.Y. case lacks experience

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Close associates and advisers to Donald Trump tell Axios they're concerned by his decision to use a relatively inexperienced New Jersey attorney, Alina Habba, in his high-stakes legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Why it matters: A former president typically has access to the country's most prestigious experts, including lawyers. Trump has turned to the former general counsel for a parking garage company, who works from a small law office near his Bedminster, N.J., country club.

U.S. charges 4 Belarus officials with air piracy in journalist's arrest

A Boeing 737-8AS Ryanair passenger plane from Athens, Greece, that was diverted to Minsk, Belarus, in May. Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department on Thursday charged four Belarusian government officials with conspiracy to commit aircraft piracy as part of an operation to arrest a dissident Belarusian journalist.

Why it matters: Prosecutors say the officials fabricated a bomb threat aboard a Ryanair flight carrying the journalist Raman Pratasevich last May, forcing it to land in Minsk, Belarus instead.

49 mins ago - World

What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Russia President Vladimir Putin confers with defense minister Sergei Shoigu. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

The Biden administration is framing Russian escalation in Ukraine as almost a foregone conclusion, but the Russians are still at the table and Vladimir Putin may be seeking concessions from the West rather than a military confrontation with Kyiv.

Driving the news: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Geneva, contended in a speech Thursday from Berlin that Putin's intentions are clear: "He's laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation."