inland and Sweden formally applied to join the NATO alliance on Wednesday at allied headquarters, a decision spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but face objections from Turkey to an accession process that is expected to take only a few weeks.

Neutral throughout the Cold War, Sweden’s and Finland’s decision to join NATO is one of the most significant changes in Europe’s security architecture for decades, reflecting a sweeping shift in public opinion in the Nordic region since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.

“This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a short ceremony in which the Swedish and Finnish ambassadors to the alliance handed over their application letters, each in a white folder embossed with their national flag.

“I warmly welcome requests by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners, and your membership in NATO will increase our shared security,” Stoltenberg said. The alliance considers that the accession of Finland and Sweden would hugely strengthen it in the Baltic Sea.

With the applications formally submitted, the Nordic countries and their many backers now face uncertain months where any resistance to their bids needs to be overcome, with all 30 of NATO’s members needing to approve the enlargement.

Ratification by all allied parliaments could take up to a year, diplomats say.

Turkey has surprised its allies in recent days by saying it had reservations about Finnish and Swedish membership, saying the two countries harbour individuals linked to groups it deems terrorists and hitting out at arms export embargoes imposed on it after its Syria incursion in 2019. read more

Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that he thought the issues could be resolved.

“We are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions,” Stoltenberg said, noting strong support from all other allies.

Seeking to move the membership process along, Sweden’s defence minister has already headed to Washington and will be followed by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli. Niinisto later this week. read more

The countries hope speedy ratification by the United States, the alliance’s premier power, will help smooth their path to membership with the White House having said it is confident any obstacles can be overcome. read more.

The decision to seek. a place under the NATO umbrella represents a setback for Moscow, with the war in Ukraine triggering the very kind of enlargement of the alliance on Russia’s borders that it took to arms to prevent.

So far, Moscow’s response has been unexpectedly muted, having previously warned of steps of a “military-technical” nature and that it could deploy nuclear weapons in its European exclave of Kaliningrad were the countries to join.

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Swedish and Finnish NATO membership posed no threat to Russia, but cautioned that Moscow would respond if the Western alliance boosted military infrastructure in the new Nordic members.

Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron and longtime friend of the late Taylor Hawkins says his quotes in a Rolling Stone article were “taken out of context.”

The rock bible published “Inside Taylor Hawkins’ Final Days as a Foo Fighter” on Monday. Reporters interviewed 20 of Hawkins’ friends for the piece.

North Korea on Wednesday added hundreds of thousands of infections to its growing pandemic caseload but also said that a million people have already recovered from suspected COVID-19 just a week after disclosing an outbreak, a public health crisis it appears to be trying to manage in isolation as global experts express deep concern about dire consequences.

The country’s anti-virus headquarters announced 232,880 new cases of fever and another six deaths in state media Wednesday. Those figures raise its totals to 62 deaths and more than 1.7 million fever cases since late April. It said more than a million people recovered but at least 691,170 remain in quarantine.

Outside experts believe most of the fevers are from COVID-19 but North Korea lacks tests to confirm so many. The outbreak is almost certainly larger than the fever tally, since some virus carriers may not develop fevers or other symptoms.

The end result heavily focused on his mental struggles and desire to take a step back from the band because of its upcoming rigorous tour schedule.

Hawkins’ family and Foo Fighters bandmates had declined to partake in the interviews. But Cameron apparently had plenty to share about Hawkins’ state of mind before his passing.

“He had a heart-to-heart with Dave and, yeah, he told me that he ‘couldn’t f – – king do it anymore’ — those were his words,” Cameron told Rolling Stone. “So I guess they did come to some understanding, but it just seems like the touring schedule got even crazier after that.”

Now, on Tuesday, Cameron — who collaborated with Hawkins on his Nighttime Boogie Association side project — said he wishes he hadn’t participated in the story, either.

“When I agreed to take part in the Rolling Stone article about Taylor, I assumed it would be a celebration of his life and work,” he wrote on Instagram.

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