Nato should welcome Finland and Sweden with open arms. They deserve to live in peace and security – Angus Robertson MSP

Northern Europe is set for a major boost to defence and security cooperation with Sweden and Finland joining Nato.

The Nordic nations have had to totally rethink their historic military non-alignment after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

By invading his southern neighbour, President Vladimir Putin has shown he can’t be trusted to respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and peaceful relations with countries in the region.In recent weeks, this has been a profound shift in public and political opinion in both Finland and Sweden. Polls in show that public support for Nato accession in Finland has trebled to around 75 per cent.

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Finnish president Sauli Niinistö said: “A new era is opening. A protected Finland is being born as part of a stable, strong and responsible Nordic region. We gain security, and we also share it. It’s good to keep in mind that security isn’t a zero-sum game.”

Meanwhile in Sweden support for Nato membership has risen to between 50 and 60 per cent. Nato membership for Sweden has been backed by the powerful Social Democrats who have made the move conditional on not hosting nuclear weapons, the same position as neighbouring Norway.

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Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said: “The best thing for the security of Sweden and the Swedish people is to join Nato.”

She stressed that non-alignment had served Sweden well but “will not do so in the future”. PM Andersson warned Sweden would be “vulnerable” if it were to be the only nation in the Baltic region not in Nato.

A Swedish armoured vehicle sits by a snow drift during a military exercise with several Nato members in the country's north-east in 2019 (Picture: Naina Helen Jama/AFP via Getty Images)

The historic move by Sweden and Finland to join Nato means that all Nordic and Baltic nations will be members of the defence alliance and their most northerly neighbour is Scotland.

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With the North Atlantic to our west, the Iceland Gap to our north and North Sea to the east of Scotland stretching to Norway and Denmark, Scotland is in a vital geo-strategic location.

Nato offers the ultimate insurance policy with a mutual defence guarantee that means an attack on one member is an attack on all. On a day-to-day basis, it is the framework for allied nations to cooperate and operate, train their forces and procure the best military equipment.

Safeguarding our skies and seas is a key part of Nato’s work, with permanent peacetime missions. According to Nato, “air policing is a collective task and a purely defensive mission involving the 24/7 presence of fighter aircraft, which are ready to react quickly to possible airspace violations”.

Allied Air Command, which is headquartered at Ramstein in Germany, oversees the Nato air-policing mission with round-the-clock command and control from two Combined Air Operations Centres, with Uedem, Germany covering northern Europe. Regional assistance is specifically provided to base aircraft in Iceland and the Baltic states.

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On our seas, Nato has standing naval forces that provide the alliance with a continuous naval presence made up of vessels from different Nato member states.

Whether on land, sea or air – and increasingly in cyberspace – we need to work together to guarantee our security. We should welcome our northern European neighbours Sweden and Finland into Nato.

They deserve to live in peace and security, just as we do. I look forward to Scotland working together with our Nordic and Baltic neighbours for our collective security.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary