Barack Obama with his wife Michelle Obama
(Photo: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
- Biden’s inauguration is significantly different from conventional ceremonies. Due to the pandemic, the traditional lunch was canceled, there will be no large-scale parade either, it was moved online.
- Guests at the inauguration also much less: only about 1,000 people are expected. Usually about 200 thousand tickets for events in the capital are distributed, but this time there are no tickets, and each of the congressmen can invite only one person with him. It is assumed that due to the cancellation of mass events, budgetary expenditures will be reduced.
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Enhanced security measures
Already after the events of January 6, when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building, the authorities announced that they would strengthen security measures during the inauguration.
- In the FBI warnedthat a significant number of threats have been recorded on the Internet over the past two weeks. The head of department Christopher Ray said that he fears outbreaks of violence in Washington on the day of the inauguration.
- In the vicinity of the American capital they decided overturn about 25 thousand members of the National Guard, usually stationed in various states on the East Coast.
- Also involved in ensuring security are 6,000 DC police officers, radiation, chemical and biological defense units, Coast Guard forces, Secret Service officers and FBI agents.
- In downtown Washington, 13 subway stations were closed. Trains pass them without stopping.
- Facebook for security reasons promised block the creation of any new events near the White House and the Capitol in Washington, as well as near the capitol buildings in the US states. The company will also continue to block the creation of events in the United States from non-US accounts.
- Airbnb rental service canceled in Washington DC all bookings. This was done at the request of the authorities, who feared that extremists from other American regions would arrive in the capital on the day of the inauguration.
Trump’s last hours in office
- Donald Trump I decided leave Washington before the inauguration. He announced in advance that early in the morning he would hold his own seeing-off ceremony in Maryland, and then, together with his wife Melania, would go to Florida.
- Trump left the White House shortly after 16:00 Moscow time. In his farewell speech, he statedthat as president he achieved “amazing results.” Among his achievements, he named the strengthening of the armed forces and tax reform.
Фото: Eric Thayer / Getty Images
- The president also took one of the “nuclear suitcases” with him: until 20:00 Moscow time, he retains the authority to use nuclear weapons, and therefore Trump must carry a bag with a set of launch codes with him until that time. Biden a similar suitcase will hand over immediately after the oath.
- Trump landed in Florida an hour before Biden’s inauguration. According to CNN, along the way he followed the events in Washington.
Biden’s first steps as president
In his first hours as president, Biden signed a series of documents overturning Trump’s decrees. By 3:30 Moscow time, he signed 15 decrees.
- In particular, the president launched the procedure for the return of the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement (Trump announced his withdrawal in 2017), as well as to the World Health Organization (WHO) (Trump decided to leave WHO in the summer of 2020, as he believed that the organization allowed many mistakes while coping with the coronavirus pandemic).
- Biden also lifted travel bans for citizens from a range of Muslim and African countries, halted construction of a wall on the Mexican border and construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada. Ottawa has already announced its disappointment with Biden’s decision.
- In addition, the president introduced the mandatory wearing of masks and the observance of social distance in federal institutions.
Who will join the Biden team
Back in late November, Biden’s headquarters published a list of potential members of the new administration. Subsequently, the media reported on several more possible appointments.
- Secretary of State – Anthony Blinken. In the administration of Barack Obama in 2015-2017, he was the Deputy Secretary of State.
- Defense Minister – Lloyd Austin. General retired.
- Director of CRU – William Burns. Former Deputy Secretary of State, ex-US Ambassador to Russia.
- National Security Advisor – Jake Sullivan. He was Biden’s assistant when he was vice president.
- Homeland Security Minister – Alejandro Mallorcas. Deputy Minister of Homeland Security 2013–2016.
- The US President’s special envoy for climate change is John Kerry. Former Secretary of State.
Should Russia wait for new sanctions
Biden’s sanctions policy towards Russia is still a mystery. The basic consensus is that anti-Russian sanctions could expand under Biden, but not too dramatically. It is also worth remembering that during the Trump presidency, the US Congress prepared several initiatives containing additional sanctions against Russia, in particular, restrictions against ruble sovereign debt, financial institutions and energy projects in Russia. Some of these initiatives can now be supported by both parties in Congress, especially since both the House of Representatives and the Senate are now under the control of the Democrats.
Taking into account the bills of the Congress, Biden’s set of sanctions options include:
- sanctions for federal loan bonds (OFZ);
- targeted sanctions against Russian individuals for alleged interference in the US elections or human rights violations, alleged corruption schemes;
- increased sanctions pressure on the Nord Stream 2 project by imposing sanctions against its participants;
- sanctions for the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, not imposed under Trump.