SWEDEN and Finland have moved a step closer to Nato membership after 30 member states signed off on the accession protocols.

The move further increases Russia’s strategic isolation in the wake of its invasion of neighbouring Ukraine in February. It is also a sign of encouragement for those who would like to see an independent Scotland join the alliance.

Secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said: “This is truly a historic moment for Finland, for Sweden and for Nato.”

The 30 ambassadors and permanent representatives formally approved the decisions of last week’s Nato summit when the alliance made the historic decision to invite Russia’s neighbour Finland and Scandinavian partner Sweden to join the military club. Neither country has weapons of mass destruction – signalling that an independent Scotland could join the organisation after it ditches Trident.

READ MORE: Independent Scotland will join Nato like Sweden, SNP's Alison Thewliss says

Under SNP policy, an independent Scotland would remove the nuclear weapons from the Clyde and apply for Nato membership. Some opponents have claimed that retaining Trident in Scottish waters would be a pre-requisite to joining the alliance.

But Marc de Vore, professor of international relations at St Andrews University, said in May that Sweden and Finland joining Nato would make the organisation more “amenable” to Scottish membership post-independence.

He said the argument that getting rid of the UK’s nuclear weapons from an independent Scotland would bar the country from Nato “does not hold water”.

SNP defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald told The National that it would be possible for Scotland to join the alliance after independence but the country would need to have a “unique” defence offering of its own to justify its inclusion.

The SNP switched their policy on Nato in 2012, prompting two MSPs to quit. John Finnie, who joined the Greens, warned: “You vote to join Nato, you will not get rid of Trident.”

The National:

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Despite the agreement in the alliance over Sweden and Finland’s membership, parliamentary approval in member state Turkey could still pose problems for their final inclusion as members.

Last week, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Ankara could still block the process if the two countries fail to fully meet Turkey’s demand to extradite terror suspects with links to outlawed Kurdish groups or the network of an exiled cleric accused of a failed 2016 coup in Turkey.

He said Turkey’s parliament could refuse to ratify the deal. This is a potent threat since Nato accession must be formally approved by all 30 member states, which gives each a blocking right.

Stoltenberg said he expected no change of heart. “There were security concerns that needed to be addressed. And we did what we always do at Nato. We found common ground.”

Every alliance nation has different legislative challenges and procedures to deal with, and it could take several more months for the two countries to become official members.

“I look forward to a swift ratification process,” said Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto.

READ MORE: Turkey lifts objections to Sweden and Finland joining Nato

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has given the process added urgency. It will ensconce the two nations in the Western military alliance and give Nato more clout, especially in the face of Moscow’s military threat.

“We will be even stronger and our people will be even safer as we face the biggest security crisis in decades,” said Stoltenberg.

Tuesday’s signing-off does bring both nations deeper into Nato’s fold. As close partners, they already attended some meetings that involved issues that immediately affected them.

As official invitees, they can attend all meetings of the ambassadors even if they do not yet have any voting rights.