SO, it’s official. Finland and Sweden have ended 70 years of neutrality to apply for Nato membership.

It’s an epic change for Russia’s closest Nordic neighbours. But what does it mean for Scotland, Trident and independence?

Perhaps not very much.

Alison Thewliss MP told the BBC yesterday that an independent Scotland would square Nato membership without nuclear weapons “in exactly the same way Sweden has done”.

That’s fair enough. But it rather ignores one big difference – Trident.

READ MORE: David Pratt: An independent Scotland should join Nato

The two independent Scandinavian countries have been able to choose non-nuclear, non-Nato neutrality since the 1950s because of their proximity to Russia. Scotland has not been able to choose its current status as the active part of a nuclear power. Trident submarines are unwelcome but their presence cannot be wished away. Unquestionably there would be pressure from non-nuclear neighbours for an iScotland to keep the weapons system as a condition for joining Nato.

Yes – there would be pressure. But pressure can be resisted.

Ironically, Sweden and Finland are the living testimony.

In the Cold War era despite considerable pressure to join Nato, they resisted – together. According to Danish foreign policy expert Hans Mouritzen: “If Sweden had joined Nato, Finland would have had a letter from Moscow the next day inviting them into a Soviet defence organisation and soon

a border between east and west would have run through a heavily-armed Baltic.”

Norway and Denmark were founding members of Nato, but they understood the rationale behind the neutrality of their Nordic neighbours. It arose from their geography and history.

Later, there was pressure on Norway to join the EEC/EU. Ironically, Finland – unable to join Nato for fear of provoking Moscow – were keen that Norway should become EU members. But Norwegians resisted in two referendums – worried that Brussels would end the generous state support that keeps farming and settlements viable in remote areas. When Sweden joined the EU it was pressured to join the Euro – but resisted. And when Iceland was all but bankrupted in 2008, the ‘logical’ move of applying for EU membership was abandoned the second their confidence returned.

Sovereign states invariably seek bespoke arrangements in defence and trading pacts. Of course, existing members will try to enforce conformity. But every new state will try to resist because of unique red lines based on their own unique history.

Scotland has experienced three centuries as a puppet remotely controlled by London, (almost) seven decades as an expendable dumping ground for nuclear weapons and nuclear waste and one terrible illegal war in Iraq, where we were unwilling participants.

Never again.

We have tholed weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde at the behest of Westminster, against majority Scottish opinion, controlled by an even more distant and unelected authority – the American president. And until very recently, that man was the unstable, anti-Nato, “America-First” Donald Trump – a man most Scots detest.

All of this has shaped our recent history, our politics and our international outlook. This is where an independent Scotland will be coming from.

The Iraq debacle under Tony Blair prompted Labour’s disintegration, the rise in support for the SNP, independence and CND – support that was so strong within the SNP that the volte-face on Nato membership by its leadership, was only narrowly backed by party members.

In short, the experience of being “useful idiots” will not be quickly forgotten. The whole point of indy for many campaigners is to end Scotland’s status as an expendable branch economy, a forgettable end of the line and a disposable receptacle for unsavoury nuclear hardware.

If Scots vote for independence, then an overwhelming popular rejection of our existing puppet status will have taken place.

So an iScotland will be entitled (and obliged) to be particularly stubborn on this unique and historic red line.

Removing the deadly relics of our past will be a totem of change – a sign that independence is meaningful. And other countries will have to understand that reality and make allowances.

Will iScotland be sufficiently attractive to Nato, EU or EFTA, to stand our ground?

Yes, we will.

Senior officials in Iceland have openly discussed the advantage of having Scotland as a new member of the EFTA halfway house, creating a powerful bloc with three contiguous North Atlantic states controlling vital sea routes, fishing grounds and a vast wind, marine and geothermal renewable energy resource.

Why wouldn’t the EU want us? Regaining five million progressive, pro-EU citizens in a new strategically important North Atlantic state could only boost the European project after Britain’s acrimonious departure.

There could well be a bidding war between EFTA and the EU for Scotland as a member.

Nato would also be keen – Trident or not. So should Scotland join?

Clearly Nicola Sturgeon backs membership and inclusion of the peace-loving Scandis will make the nuclear alliance appear more attractive and more inevitable.

But Scots should ca’ canny.

By the time we become independent, there could be a very different man or woman in charge

of the White House and thus European defence.

FIVE short years ago, Donald Trump described Nato as obsolete, threatened to cut funding, refused to endorse the ‘mutual protection clause’ of Article 5 and made clear that Europeans had to step up and take care of ourselves. It may have taken the terrible events in Ukraine to do it, but almost every European country has now boosted military spending to 2% of GDP, the EU has crossed the Rubicon by sending ‘lethal force into a conflict zone’ and Germany has overturned decades of neutrality to send weapons and create a €100bn military fund.

A European defence kitty is being created – the question is who will run it?

American-led Nato or Europe?

Pre-invasion, Joe Biden echoed Trump in saying the Far East was America’s primary focus – not Europe – and failed to inform Nato allies before the disastrous evacuation of Kabul. Meanwhile Nato has firmly refused Ukraine’s application to join. So, what’s the answer?

Norwegian security analyst, Professor Iver Neumann, outlined the case for a non-nuclear European Defence Force at a recent Nordic Horizons event: “In three to seven years we will have an American president whose foreign policy agenda we know nothing about. He may be an isolationist, he may be a gung-ho militarist. What’s happening inside the Republican Party is leaving democratic politics behind. With that happening the way to go is to strengthen EU defence policy.”

Now of course, those sitting “safe” under Nato’s nuclear umbrella will guffaw at such apparent naivety. The US currently pays the lion’s share of Nato’s budget – will European nations really cough up? Why would France accept any limitations on its nuclear deterrent? And would the EU-sceptic left in Scotland trust an EU Defence Force any more than Nato?

These are all valid questions. And no European country is currently advocating a move away from Nato, or its gradual transformation into a European-led body.

But unprecedented things are happening.

Old norms are suddenly changing.

READ MORE: Joining Nato would be 'vital' to an indy Scotland's security, says Nicola Sturgeon

Rattled Nordic nations have been forced to abandon neutrality. But that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on the primacy of peace-keeping and diplomacy. It doesn’t mean they want a Baltic ringed by steel, nuclear weapons in their waters or Nato bases on their land. And it doesn’t mean they’ll accept a Trump-led Nato down the line, even if membership offers protection today against a predatory President Putin.

A European Defence Force may soon develop.

It’s still unlikely. But not impossible. And that could be the situation an iScotland inherits.

So, let’s keep our powder dry on Nato, keep a guid conceit of our own international worth and keep preparing to remove Trident.