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National Guard member stage on the U.S. Capitol grounds. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

In an escalation of inauguration security following the Capitol riot, federal authorities plan to lock down a massive swath of downtown Washington on Wednesday, six days earlier than originally planned.

Why it matters: The earlier shutdown is based on warnings about pre-inauguration demonstrations planned for this weekend in capitals throughout the country, as well as tighter security after the Capitol siege. 

  • The Department of Homeland Security announced that the window for the National Special Security Event, which will involve tens of thousands of National Guard troops and federal law enforcement personnel, will begin Jan. 13, rather than the previously scheduled Jan, 19, the day before the inauguration.
  • During the expanded security period, many businesses around the Capitol and White House will be inaccessible. 

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the change was in light of "events of the past week and the evolving security landscape leading up to the inauguration and at the recommendation of Secret Service Director James Murray."

  • Other National Security Special Events, which make the Secret Service the lead agency, include the Super Bowl and the national political conventions.

The bottom line: The change comes amid a massive tightening of security in D.C., including today's temporary closure of the Washington Monument in response to threats to disrupt President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

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Go deeper

Jan 28, 2021 - World

Biden turns the page on Trump's Israel-Palestine policies

Biden with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2010. Photo: David Furst/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration laid out its Israel-Palestine policy at the UN Security Council on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of repairing ties with the Palestinian Authority.

Driving the news: According to the new policies, the U.S. will resume aid to the Palestinians and reopen the PLO office in Washington and the consulate in Jerusalem.

U.S. ambassador to Russia will return home briefly: State Department

John Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Russia, during a briefing in Moscow in 2015. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department said Monday that the U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, will now be returning to the United States this week before returning to Moscow "in the coming weeks."

Why this matters: The statement, from a State Department spokesperson, comes just hours after Axios reported that Sullivan had indicated he intended to stand his ground and stay in Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to return home to talk with his team.

Scoop: Leaked Ukraine memo reveals scope of Russia's aggression

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, in Jan. 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russia has been holding last-minute military exercises near commercial shipping lanes in the Black Sea that threaten to strangle Ukraine's economy, according to an internal document from Ukraine's ministry of defense reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: With the eyes of the world on the massive buildup of troops in eastern Ukraine, the leaked memo shows Russian forces escalating their presence on all sides of the Ukrainian border.