Personal Journals about Hang Gliding

Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat Mar 05, 2022 9:38 am

Bill Cummings wrote:What is binding is the agreement they signed with Europe and the West to remove the nuclear weapons from Ukraine and keep them in Russia. For this they agreed that Ukraine is independent and Russia would not aggress.

https://youtu.be/Ys2zTL-b3eE


Thanks for the great video Bill. The key part of the discussion starts around 58 minutes and 30 seconds, and runs for about 4 minutes.



So Ukraine has been an independent nation as recognized by the world for about 3 decades. And now Putin comes along and somehow claims that Ukraine is still part of Russia? Really?

Also, around 1:17:20 - the Ukrainians are fighting like "lions" and like "heroes". I would add "hawks".

:salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute: :salute:
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Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sun Mar 06, 2022 9:52 am

The parallels between Jack Axaopoulos and Vladimir Putin continue ...

Putin now cracks down on access to any information contrary to his propaganda. Doesn't that sound a lot like Jack's bans and his own "iron curtain"? Tyrants always follow the same patterns.

From: https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/20 ... ssia-news/

washingtonpost.com wrote:Russia’s independent media, long under siege, teeters under new Putin crackdown

After blocking media access, Russia banned what it calls ‘fake’ news of its assault on Ukraine. Journalists are now fleeing the country.

By Elahe Izadi
 and 
Sarah Ellison

March 4, 2022
Updated yesterday at 8:58 a.m. EST


Ivan Kolpakov, editor in chief of Meduza, one of Russia’s most popular independent media outlets, had been expecting the government to block the public’s access to his website every day since the war with Ukraine began.

On Friday morning it finally happened. But then Russia’s parliament went further, passing a law banning what it considers “fake” news about the military, including any rhetoric that calls the invasion of Ukraine an “invasion” — the preferred language is “special military operation” — with a potential 15-year prison sentence. Putin signed it into law hours later.

“Our sources say they are likely to use this against journalists,” said Kolpakov, speaking from a location he would not disclose. “They can use it against journalists, and why wouldn’t they? They decided to destroy the industry entirely.”

Kolpakov, whose website is based in Latvia, began what he called “an urgent evacuation” of his Russian staff.

Similar scenarios are playing out at countless independent media outlets across Russia, a nation that has never had a fully welcoming attitude toward a free press.

While several Western news organizations say they have temporarily curtailed their activities in Russia while they assess the impact of Putin’s new policy, it is Russia’s homegrown media that is bearing the brunt. Many outlets are closing their doors, and journalists are fleeing the country.

The result is a silencing of the media voices that provided the Russian public with information that differed from the government’s official spin on domestic and world affairs, as presented by state-owned media.

Russia was most recently ranked 150th out of 180 nations on the World Press Freedom Index compiled by the nonprofit Reporters Without Borders, and the government has often pushed restrictions on independent media during times of military conflict, according to Gulnoza Said, coordinator for Europe and Central Asia programs for the Committee to Protect Journalists. But the latest crackdown is unprecedented.

“Putin understands how high the stakes are in the invasion of Ukraine, and a big part of this war is the information war,” she said. “Once Russian officials saw the information war could be lost because of the activities of Russian-based outlets, I think they were outraged and decided to close them.”

The closure Thursday of Echo of Moscow, a 32-year-old radio station, was especially shocking, she said. “Echo Moscow has become a part of Russian identity just as ‘Swan Lake’ or ‘War and Peace.' And now it’s no more.”

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine last week, Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor put Echo and nine other outlets on notice, ordering them to delete news and commentary that used terms such as “invasion” and “war” to describe the incursion. One of them was independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose editor, Dmitry Muratov, recently won the Nobel Peace Prize.

On Monday, Muratov told the New Yorker “we continue to call ‘war’ war.” On Friday, the paper announced it would delete its war reporting because of the new law.

Another was TV Rain, the country’s last independent television station. Two hours after the government blocked its website Wednesday, chief editor Tikhon Dzyadko and his wife, the station’s news director, fled the country. The station aired its last broadcast over YouTube on Thursday.

In an interview with The Washington Post from Turkey, Dzyadko mourned the end of the work his station had been doing. “In a country which is free only on paper but in reality has been becoming more repressive, in such a country, we were absolutely free and we were saying what we wanted to say and reporting about actually important things,” he said.

Some colleagues also fled, while others remain in Russia. “All of us are just trying to understand where we are and what is happening.”

Russia has also blocked access to Facebook and to broadcasts and websites of Western media organizations, including Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. CNN announced Friday it would stop broadcasting its programs in Russia, “while we continue to evaluate the situation and our next steps moving forward.” Britain’s BBC, which announced it would temporarily suspend its journalists’ work in Russia, saying “we are not prepared to expose them to the risk of criminal prosecution simply for doing their jobs”; CBS and ABC soon announced that its Russia correspondents would not appear on-air. Some Russia-based American journalists left before the law was passed.

A company spokeswoman said The Washington Post is still assessing the new law’s potential impact on its correspondents and local staff.

The Russian government either owns or controls most of the TV channels from which older Russians get their news. But for several years, as Russia attempted to participate in the global arena, Putin “tried to appear friendly to independent media and journalists,” Said said.

It has always been an uneasy history, though. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Russia was plagued by a spate of high-profile killings of journalists. And during Putin’s two decades in power, oligarchs have bought up many independent media outlets.

Putin was focused on television news in the first years of his presidency, said Kolpakov, but left newspapers and websites intact: “They didn’t see it as an important part of the market” for controlling public opinion. Dzyadko saw Russia’s tolerance of independent media as mostly window dressing.

“There was an idea to make it look like Russia is democracy,” he said. “But one day they decided that they don’t want to do it anymore.” Crackdowns came during Russian incursions in Chechnya, Georgia and Crimea.

The independent media was often able to do “thoughtful and heroic work,” said Philip Seib, professor emeritus of journalism and public diplomacy at the University of Southern California and author of “Information at War: Journalism, Disinformation, and Modern Warfare.” But it mostly served as a facade — “Potemkin journalism,” he said, “behind which are the tightly controlled major entities” of state-owned media.

“When global political difficulties arise, the facade is torn down and truth banned,” Seib added.

Since 2019, Russia has designated dozens of journalists and media organizations as “foreign agents,” including Rain TV and Meduza. One of Meduza’s journalists, Ivan Golunov, was arrested on manufactured drug charges, prompting mass protests before he was released.

TV Rain — which grew its audience with coverage of 2010 and 2011 anti-government demonstrations — was kicked off major cable and satellite providers in 2014 before pivoting to YouTube, where Dzyadko said its audience averaged about 15 million viewers monthly.

“The designation of being a foreign agent, the idea was to show to the people that we were spies and enemies, but instead, our audience got bigger,” he said.

Independent media has been especially under pressure over the past two years, since the Russian constitution was amended to allow Putin to remain president until 2036 and opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned and arrested. In April 2021, the Kremlin declared Meduza a foreign agent. Advertisers dropped it, forcing Meduza to close its offices and lay off staff. Sources grew fearful of speaking to its reporters, Kolpakov said. And then U.S. sanctions made it hard for Meduza to access the donated funds it had come to rely upon.

“It’s not like Latin America, where people are shot in the street, but it is still a dangerous profession and there are lots of methods that the authorities use to put pressure on people,” he said. “I have huge concerns about the security of our people. I can’t tell you how many people we have or where they are based because it is so dangerous.”

On Thursday, Meduza published an editorial saying it would continue to report upon unfolding events in the country, while it can, noting that “within a few days, maybe even today, it is possible that there will be no independent media left in Russia.”

And the final few seconds of Rain TV on Thursday featured dozens of staffers who had assembled on set walking off together.

“No to war,” said the station owner and co-founder. And then the feed cut to a scene from the ballet “Swan Lake” — which state TV often broadcasts during moments of political upheaval, most notably during the 1991 failed coup attempt that preceded the fall of the Soviet Union.

“We know when and why this was played once on Russian television, and we know what happened soon after,” Dzyadko said. “So since we are optimistic, we hope good times will come.”
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Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sun Mar 06, 2022 12:43 pm

Even VISA, Mastercard, and American Express are stepping up.

CBS News wrote:VISA, Mastercard, and American Express suspend operation in Russia over Ukraine invasion

VISA_MC_Russia.png
VISA_MC_Russia.png (53.45 KiB) Viewed 416 times
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Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sun Mar 06, 2022 1:26 pm

I have been on the fence for some time about the United States calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. But I think it's time to move in that direction. Enforcement will surely be an issue, but we should call for it anyway.

If we've learned anything from bullies (great and small) it is that we must stand up against them or they will take more and more.

The sport of hang gliding has suffered tremendously because too many people have put their own short-term personal interests ahead of what we need as a community. Our community has been ripped apart by those who seek to control our discussions and by those whose personal agendas have kept them silent about these abuses.
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Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Tue Mar 08, 2022 12:11 pm

Today:

  • Poland is giving MIG-29 jets to Ukraine
  • United States stops importing oil from Russia
  • McDonald's suspends doing business in Russia

Also, thanks again to Bill for his Jordan Peterson video mentioning the Budapest memorandum of December 5, 1994 signed by Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the United States.

From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_and_Ukraine:

Wikipedia wrote:After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Ukraine held about one third of the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the third largest in the world at the time, as well as significant means of its design and production.
  :
In 1994, Ukraine agreed to destroy the weapons, and to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
  :
On December 5, 1994 the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Britain and the United States signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances in connection with its accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. The four parties signed the memorandum, containing a preamble and six paragraphs. The memorandum reads as follows:
The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,

Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as non-nuclear-weapon State,

Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,

Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the Cold War, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces.

Confirm the following:

1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind.

4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used.

5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State.

6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.

— Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine’s Accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons


As I said in my previous post:

If we've learned anything from bullies (great and small) it is that we must stand up against them or they will take more and more.

The sport of hang gliding has suffered tremendously because too many people have put their own short-term personal interests ahead of what we need as a community. Our community has been ripped apart by those who seek to control our discussions and by those whose personal agendas have kept them silent about these abuses.
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Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Thu Mar 10, 2022 12:51 am

Bob Kuczewski wrote:I have been on the fence for some time about the United States calling for a no-fly zone over Ukraine. But I think it's time to move in that direction. Enforcement will surely be an issue, but we should call for it anyway.


By the way, I have to ask why it is that Russia can invade Ukraine, but the U.S. is somehow prohibited from sending planes to create a "no fly zone"? Maybe the problem is one of perception. Maybe instead of going in to create a "no fly zone", the U.S. should just go in with an air "attack" to take over Ukraine in exactly the same way that Russia is doing. How could Putin complain about us doing exactly what he has been doing? The U.S. could "conquer" Ukraine in one day without a shot being fired. The Ukrainian military would simply surrender to us immediately. Then it would be Russia attacking the United States rather than the other way around. They would be the ones starting a "shooting war" which I don't think they would do. When it's all over, we turn the country back over to the existing leadership and everyone lives happily ever after.

As I said in my earlier post, if we've learned anything from bullies (great and small) it is that we must stand up against them (one way or another) or they will take more and more. Just look at Jack Axaopoulos, Davis Straub, and USHPA if you have any doubts.
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Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat May 14, 2022 10:04 am

Putin takes another page from the Jack Axaopoulos playbook.

What did Jack Axaopoulos do when people protested the banning of Joe Faust? Jack threatened them to shut them up, and it worked.

Putin is following that same pattern by threatening countries who are considering joining NATO. But fortunately, Finland (and Sweden) are not so cowardly. Here's just one article from Newsweek:

Newsweek wrote:Finland Risks 'Annihilation' if They Join NATO, Russian Lawmaker Warns

BY BRENDAN COLE ON 5/14/22 AT 9:11 AM EDT

A Russian lawmaker who has previously boasted about his country's missile capabilities on Kremlin-backed television has said that Finland is endangering its existence if it joins NATO.

Duma deputy Aleksey Zhuravlyov, who chairs the nationalist Rodina political party, told the news outlet Ura.ru that Finland and Russia once enjoyed good relations following World War Two but now Helsinki is "going to do something to create additional problems for us."

"When you create problems for someone, you must understand that you will get them yourself," he said in the article headlined, "Joining NATO threatens Finland with annihilation."

Last month, Zhuravlyov said on the program 60 Minutes, which pushes the Kremlin line on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that he wished missiles had hit Kyiv while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was visiting.

On another episode of the program, Zhuravlyov suggested Moscow's latest missile, the Sarmat, should target the U.K. because of London's support for Ukraine's war effort.

In the interview with Ura published on Friday, Zhuravlyov said that Finns "should be grateful to Russia for their statehood" and that if Helsinki were to join NATO they would not "behave towards us as they did before."

"The Americans will incite them to provocations," he said. "If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our absolutely legitimate goal is to question the existence of this state. This is logical."

"These countries are joining an alliance that wants to destroy Russia. Therefore, we want to destroy them in response," he added.

Zhuravlyov is renowned for his hawkish views and his stance does not necessarily reflect that of the Kremlin. However, his comments come as Finland braces itself for a Russian response following its announcement that it intended to join NATO "without delay."

Finnish media reported Friday that Russia could immediately cut off gas to its Nordic neighbor. Meanwhile, Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko warned on Saturday there would be a response to Finland to the alliance, with Sweden also set to apply to the bloc. He said their accession to the bloc was "a strategic change" which cannot remain "without a political reaction," Interfax reported.

In a conversation with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö on Saturday, President Vladimir Putin said that Finland joining NATO "would be a mistake" Russian news agencies reported.

It adds to speculation over what Putin might do next should Helsinki enter the military bloc which he has criticized for expanding near his country's borders and which formed a justification for his invasion of Ukraine.

Tracey German, professor in conflict and security at King's College London told Newsweek that Putin's response depends upon the extent to which NATO military infrastructure moves closer to Russia's borders.

This might see military equipment, including missiles, moved to the border with Finland, or a further strengthening of the Russian military position in its enclave of Kaliningrad.

"Finland's accession will strengthen Putin's narrative about NATO and the West seeking to encircle and contain Russia, allowing him to once again push the narrative that Russia is under threat from geopolitical expansionism," she said.


You won't find Finland (or Sweden) on the "Wall of Shame".   :salute: :salute:
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Re: Wall of Shame in banning of Joe Faust from hanggliding.o

Postby Bob Kuczewski » Sat May 14, 2022 2:33 pm

The wisdom of NATO's Article 5 seems lost on those who abandoned Joe Faust in his time of need.

Here's a CNN article discussing the positions of Finland and Sweden with respect to NATO and Russia. The value and importance of NATO Article 5 can't be overestimated.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/14/europe/s ... index.html

CNN wrote:Finland is on the cusp of joining NATO while Sweden is on the verge of following suit.

Here's what you need to know about how the war in Ukraine pushed the two Nordic states closer to the US-backed alliance, and what comes next.

Why haven't Finland and Sweden already joined NATO?

While other Nordic countries like Norway, Denmark and Iceland were original members of the alliance, Sweden and Finland did not join the pact for historic and geopolitical reasons.

Both Finland, which declared independence from Russia in 1917 after the Bolshevik revolution, and Sweden adopted neutral foreign policy stances during the Cold War, refusing to align with the Soviet Union or the United States.

For Finland, this proved more difficult, as it shared a massive border with an authoritarian superpower. To keep the peace, Finns adopted a process some call "Finlandization," in which leaders acceded to Soviet demands from time to time.

Both countries' balancing acts effectively ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. They joined the European Union together in 1995 and gradually aligned their defense policies with the West, while still avoiding joining NATO outright.

Each country had different reasons for avoiding signing up for NATO pact in tandem with the EU.

For Finland, it was more geopolitical. The threat for Russia is more tangible thanks to the two countries' shared 830-mile border.

"Finland has been the exposed country, and we've been the protected country," former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in a joint interview alongside former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb.

While an independent nation, Sweden's geography puts it in the same "strategic environment" as its liberal democratic neighbors, Bildt said. Finland and Sweden have enjoyed a close partnership for decades, with Stockholm viewing its decision to refrain from joining NATO as a way to help keep the heat off Helsinki. Now, however, Sweden is likely to follow Finland's lead.

"We share the idea that close cooperation will benefit both of us," current Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said at a news conference last month alongside her Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin.

What does NATO membership entail?

The reason most countries join NATO is because of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which stipulates that all signatories consider an attack on one an attack against all.

Article 5 has been a cornerstone of the alliance since NATO was founded in 1949 as a counterweight to the Soviet Union.

The point of the treaty, and Article 5 specifically, was to deter the Soviets from attacking liberal democracies that lacked military strength. Article 5 guarantees that the resources of the whole alliance -- including the massive US military -- can be used to protect any single member nation, such as smaller countries who would be defenseless without their allies. Iceland, for example, has no standing army.

Bildt said he doesn't see new big military bases being built in either country should they join NATO. He said that joining the alliance would likely mean more joint military training and planning between Finland, Sweden and NATO's 30 current members. Swedish and Finnish forces could also participate in other NATO operations around the globe, such as those in the Baltic states, where several bases have multinational troops.

"There's going to be preparations for contingencies as part of deterring any adventures that the Russians might be thinking of," Bildt said. "The actual change is going to be fairly limited."

Why does Russia loathe NATO?

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees the alliance as a bulwark aimed at Russia, despite the fact that it had spent much of the post-Soviet years focusing on issues like terrorism and peacekeeping.

Before Putin invaded Ukraine, he made clear his belief that NATO had edged too close to Russia and should be stripped back to its borders of the 1990s, before some countries that either neighbor Russia or were ex-Soviet states joined the military alliance.

Ukraine's desire to join NATO, and its status as a NATO partner -- seen as a step on the way to eventual full membership -- was one of the numerous grievances Putin cited in an attempt to justify his country's invasion of its neighbor.

The irony is that the war in Ukraine has, effectively, given NATO a new purpose.

"Article 5 is back in the game, and people understand that we need NATO because of a potential Russian threat," Stubb said in an interview with CNN before the invasion.

Why the war in Ukraine changed everything

Russia's invasion of Ukraine was the final straw that pushed Sweden and Finland to pull the trigger on NATO membership.

If the Kremlin was willing to invade Ukraine, a country with 44 million people, a GDP of about $516 million, and an armed forces of 200,000 active troops, what would stop Putin from invading smaller countries like Finland in Sweden?

"Everything changed when Russia invaded Ukraine," Marin said in April. "People's mindset in Finland, also in Sweden changed and shifted very dramatically."

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, public support for joining NATO in Finland has leaped from around 30% to nearly 80% in some polls. The majority of Swedes also approve of their country joining the alliance, according to opinion polls there.

"Our NATO membership was decided on the 24th of February, at 5 o'clock in the morning, when Putin and Russia attacked Ukraine" Stubb said. "Finland and Sweden would not have joined without this attack."

Officials in both Sweden and Finland have also expressed frustration that, in the lead-up to the war in Ukraine, Russia attempted to demand security guarantees from NATO that the alliance stop expanding eastward. Such a concession, however, would have effectively given Russia the power to dictate the foreign policies of its neighbors by taking away their ability to choose their own allies and partners.

Russia, Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told CNN, wants "real influence in the security choices in Europe."

"They want an influence over the countries in the neighborhood. And that is totally unacceptable for Sweden."

What comes next?

Finnish leaders announced their intentions to join NATO on Thursday. Sweden is expected to follow suit, potentially as early as Monday, according to Bildt.

Finland said that it hopes to apply for membership "without delay," and complete the steps it needs to on the national level "in the next couple of days." That will include a vote in the Finnish parliament, which ultimately votes on the decision whether to join.

NATO diplomats told Reuters that ratification of new members could take a year, as the legislatures of all 30 current members must approve new applicants. Both countries already meet many of the criteria for membership, which include having a functioning democratic political system based on a market economy; treating minority populations fairly; committing to resolve conflicts peacefully; the ability and willingness to make a military contribution to NATO operations; and committing to democratic civil-military relations and institutions.

As two thriving liberal democracies, Sweden and Finland fulfill the requirements for entry to NATO -- although Turkey, for one, could make the process more difficult for the aspiring members. That country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday he was not looking at both countries joining NATO "positively," accusing them of housing Kurdish "terrorist organizations."

In the meantime, both countries will have to rely on its current allies and partners for security guarantees, rather than Article 5. Sweden and Finland have received assurances of support from the United States and Germany should they come under attack, while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed mutual security agreements with his Finnish and Swedish counterparts this week.

How has Russia's reacted?

Russia lambasted the decision. Its Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Finland had adopted a "radical change" in foreign policy that will force Russia to take "retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature."

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that "NATO expansion does not make the world more stable and secure." He added that Russia's reaction would depend on "how far and how close to our borders the military infrastructure will move."

Russia currently shares about 755 miles of land border with five NATO members, according to the alliance. Finland's accession would mean that a nation with which Russia shares an 830-mile border would become formally militarily aligned with the United States.

Not only would this be bad news for the Kremlin, but the addition of Finland and Sweden would benefit the alliance. Both are serious military powers, despite their small populations.

However, Bildt and Stubb, the former Swedish and Finnish premiers, believe that so far, Russia's response has been relatively muted.

"The Kremlin sees Finnish and Swedish NATO membership as a Nordic solution, and in that sense, not a radical threat," said Stubb. "We're not too worried."

Stubb and Bildt said they believe Moscow ultimately sees the two countries as reliable neighbors, despite their decision to join a Washington-backed alliance.

"The fact that Finland and Sweden are part of the West doesn't come as a surprise," said Bildt.

CNN's Luke McGee, Nic Robertson and Paul LeBlanc and Reuters contributed to this report
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