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Luisa Vieira

25 years later, is Brexit unraveling Northern Ireland’s delicate peace?

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement ended decades of bloody violence in Northern Ireland, as paramilitary groups agreed to disarm. The agreement was such a watershed that US President Joe Biden is expected to visit Belfast and the Republic of Ireland this week to mark its 25th anniversary.

But the stability of the 1.8-million-strong country has been thrown into question as a result of Brexit-induced bedlam.

Indeed, post-Brexit negotiations over trade and border arrangements have sparked some violence and raised fears of broader destabilization, prompting Britain's MI5 intelligence agency to recently raise the domestic terror threat level in Northern Ireland from “substantial” to “severe.”

Twenty-five years after the landmark accord — also known as the Belfast Agreement — how stable is the situation in Northern Ireland, and how has Brexit threatened the status quo?

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy awards a Ukrainian service member at a position near a frontline, in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 22, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Zelensky’s Bakhmut message, Rishi’s post-Brexit win, Trudeau’s take on Haiti, Ethiopia’s peace progress

Russia and Ukraine score points where they can

Volodymyr Zelensky visited frontline troops in war-ravaged Bakhmut, located in Ukraine’s eastern province of Donetsk, on Wednesday as Russian drones struck across the country. While planning for the trip was surely well underway before Vladimir Putin’s surprise stop in Russian-occupied Mariupol last weekend, the contrast underlined Zelenksy’s signal of defiance.

By appearing in Bakhmut very near the fighting, Zelensky reminded the world that, six months after Putin mobilized 300,000 new Russian soldiers for a deeper advance into Ukraine, even the small city of Bakhmut remains beyond their grasp.

In other war news, Russia has warned it will respond harshly to shipments from the UK to Ukraine of anti-tank munitions made from depleted uranium. Moscow claims this step adds an escalatory nuclear element to the conflict. In response, the UK insists the Russian position is propaganda, that the use of depleted uranium is common in anti-tank weapons, and that it contains nothing that can be used to make nuclear or radiological weapons. Finally, Russia has announced a plan to raise an additional $8 billion in revenue by changing the way oil profits are taxed.

All these stories underscore the reality that, while little has changed on the battlefield, Russians and Ukrainians are still looking for every small advantage they can gain in what looks increasingly like a war of attrition.

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