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Sturgeon's independence crusade 'playing into Putin's hands' – will 'weaken' UK and NATO

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Nicola Sturgeon blasted for endless quest for independence

The First Minister has renewed her calls for a second Scottish independence referendum in recent weeks, batting away arguments from challengers on the legality of a new vote. Defence is not devolved from Westminster to Holyrood, with Downing Street dictating military spending in Scotland for a number of crucial UK bases.

But if the Scottish Government were to seize control of military forces in Scotland in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, the loss of these bases could threaten not just the capabilities of the UK, but of the entirety of NATO, according to a Scottish Conservative politician.

Tony Miklinski, Scottish Tory councillor for Cupar, Fife, told Express.co.uk that the Scottish military is a crucial part of the UK’s armed defence and “critical” to the NATO armoury staring down threats from Vladimir Putin.

Mr Miklinski, who served in the Royal Navy for over three decades, said his military career highlighted “what a great capability, and history, and tradition, and ethos that the British military have”.

The place for Scottish servicemen within the British military is something Mr Miklinski highlighted.

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The First Minister has renewed her calls for a second Scottish independence referendum (Image: Getty)

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Boris Johnson visiting HMNB Clyde in Faslane (Image: Getty)

He said: “It would be, first of all, a huge shame that [it] would be broken apart.”

But the bigger geopolitical and security picture goes further than this, in the realtered international context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr Miklinski said.

He continued: “If you then add the value of the Scottish bases in Leuchars, in Faslane, and Rosyth, and Lossiemouth that are critical to NATO in looking after the North Sea and the Northern approaches.”

To lose them, he said, “would weaken both the UK and NATO forces”.

READ MORE: Lord Frost loses it with Ireland as he explodes at Simon Coveney 

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Bases like Lossiemouth are crucial to UK and NATO security, Mr Miklinski said (Image: Getty)

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Ms Sturgeon campaigning for independence in 2014 (Image: Getty)

An independent Scotland would “without question” cripple the ability of the UK and NATO to respond to threats from Vladimir Putin, unless the Scottish government conceded to some retained UK control over military bases north of the border.

He posed the question: “And why would they? They want freedom from the UK.”

He predicted that the loss of NATO and UK military presence in key bases in Scotland “would leave the rump of the United Kingdom” exposed to military offensives from the north.

This is more likely to be where “the Russian fleet and forces can get access, especially with submarines”.

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Speaking to LBC, the First Minister said: ‘My plans and my thinking haven’t changed’ (Image: PA)

“So an independent Scotland would weaken UK military capability and so would weaken NATO.

“So we’d play into the hands of a successful Putin, if that were the outcome we faced.”

He then issued a dire warning for the future of Scotland’s armed forces, should a second independence referendum succeed.

He added: “Given the financial straits an independent Scotland could be in […], there will be no money to fund a significant alternative defence force.”

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Ian Blackford said the war in Ukraine should not derail plans for a second vote (Image: Getty)

He said the idea that Scotland’s defence and security forces would emerge unscathed from an independence referendum that the SNP would celebrate was “just not real”.

He said: “It’s part of the fantasy world that is woven by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP to convince people to follow their line.”

This comes as Westminster’s SNP head, Ian Blackford, said the war in Ukraine should not derail plans to hold another vote before the end of next year.

Mr Blackford told BBC Scotland: “Is anybody suggesting that [Vladimir] Putin should determine the timeline for an independence referendum in Scotland?”

However, an ex-advisor to former First Minister Alex Salmond said the referendum was “unlikely” to be carried out by Ms Sturgeon’s timeline.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Kevin Pringle said: “It is unwise to make any definite predictions in such volatile times, but it seems reasonable to say out loud that an independence referendum is unlikely to take place by the end of next year, given the hurdles to be overcome and extensive preparations required.”

Speaking to LBC, the First Minister said: “My plans and my thinking haven’t changed.

“We, right now, should be reminded, above all else, how lucky we are to live in a free democracy where we can put forward our case for political constitutional change, argue that case passionately, whatever our views on that might be, and trust people to decide.”



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'Have to kick the pedal to the metal' Ex-Ukrainian leader slams Macron tank aide hesitancy

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Ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk sat down on LBC Radio to discuss NATO leaders. NATO has been allying themselves with Ukraine, sending help and weaponry and taking fleeing Ukrainian refugees. NATO members held a conference on the Russian invasion earlier this week to discuss more ways to help Ukraine.

Mr Yatsenyuk pushed for Macron to send over military tanks as promised, slamming him for dragging his feet, and claiming that the war in Ukraine affects the security of every European country.

Mr Yatsenyuk said: “That’s what Putin is closely watching, as for now, Putin didn’t expect this kind of unity and consolidated and concerted actions against the Russian federation.

“But you know, the time is running and we don’t have enough time to wait until some EU member states decide to supply more weapons to Ukraine.

“Or to impose tougher and stronger sanctions on the Russian Federation, so the EU has to be decisive and they have to speed up the process of new sanctions.

“And the shipment and delivery of weapons to Ukraine, because it’s not just about Ukraina and they realise it clearly, this is about the free world.

“And this is about the security of every single nation in the European Union, so the French have to kick the pedal to the metal.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky explained this week that he expected “serious steps” from Western-allied countries.

Mr Zelensky repeated the calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be imposed by NATO forces and complained that the Western allies had not yet provided Ukraine with sufficient planes, up to date modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.

Mr Zelensky added: “At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us.”

President Zelensky also expressed that he was grateful for the support Ukraine was continuing to receive from individual NATO member countries from around the world.

Mr Zelensky added: “But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” he said. “It feels like we’re in the grey zone between the West and Russia, but we’re protecting all our and your shared values.

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Mr Johnson added: “We’ve got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today, as we are, sanctioning the Wagner Group, looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves, and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been playing an active role in trying to de-escalate the war with Russia by imposing tight sanctions on Russia to try and stop Putin’s warpath of destruction.

Ms Truss has warned that infighting between NATO countries at the moment could be highly detrimental for progress in ending the war.

Mr Truss said: “Russia’s targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.

“It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies.”



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Brexit news: What happens when Article 16 is triggered?

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After Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) was confirmed, the two parties have been attempting to renegotiate terms for a special Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Coined the Northern Ireland protocol it’s been a point of contention that’s led to threats from each side of triggering a mechanism called Article 16. But what is it?

What is Article 16?

The UK and EU agreed to the creation of the Northern Ireland protocol, in October 2019.

By allowing goods to flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland the deal removed the threat of a hard border.

But the arrangement has also resulted in what’s been labelled as an ‘Irish Sea border’.

READ MORE: ‘Totally undeniable’ MPs colluded with Remainers to try stop Brexit

Goods that now arrive into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are subjected to more stringent checks and controls.

In the scenario that either the UK or EU feel that the protocol is leading to significant issues or hampering their capacity to trade, then they have the option of activating Article 16.

The component sets out the process for taking unilateral “safeguard” measures, which in reality would amount to suspending parts of the deal.

Specifically, Article 16 says safeguard measures can be taken if the protocol is leading to serious “economic, societal or environmental difficulties” that are liable to persist.

He said: “Triggering Article 16 now would severely disrupt the unity of the UK and EU response to the war in Ukraine.

“It is thus perhaps not surprising that key US figures chose this week to restate that any uncertainty around the stability of the Good Friday Agreement would hinder a future UK-US trade deal.”

In recent months talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic have stalled, leading to calls from Brexiteers for the UK to act.

However, Professor Menon cautioned that triggering Article 16 won’t “rid” Britain of the protocol.

He added: “I think the British Government if it triggers Article 16 will do something relatively small and contained.

“And then there’s not a massive bust-up. You don’t end up getting rid of the protocol. You end up with months if not years of negotiations, mediation and arbitration.

“So, it’s a way of doing something but it’s not a way of solving anything. In a sense you’re still stuck with the protocol and you’re still negotiating about the future of the protocol.”

In essence, were Article 16 to be triggered it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the ground.

Many of the checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland have already been unilaterally suspended.

Triggering the mechanism itself would only start a formal dispute process that requires both sides to go into talks to resolve.



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NATO slammed as former US Army chief exposes ‘two big issues’ in united Russia response

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US Army vice chief of staff general Jack Keane, sat down on LBC radio to talk about the NATO conference which took place earlier this week. Mr Keane discussed the possibility that Putin could deploy chemical biological weapons on the battlefield. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already used the highly condemned thermobaric weapons since the war started just over a month ago.

The US Army chief acknowledged there had been no public policy declaration on the consequences Putin would face if he was to take such a barbaric action.

Mr Keane said: “Listen I was very disappointed by the NATO summit.

“I totally applaud the fact that they’re going to increase by 40k troops in Eastern Europe.

“And they’re increasing sanctions and it seems like a sense of unity.

“But on two big issues, it’s got to be disappointing, there’s no NATO public policy declaration.

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Mr Keane added: “At the end of that summit to deal with this particular issue, chemical biological weapons and nuclear weapons which the Russians have been waving in front of our face now for almost 30 days.

“What we need is… Think policy statement, not something that’s left to a reporter to ask a question on.

“And then you get a statement that you just repeated, which leads to more confirmation than anything else.

“A much better statement, using my words… I don’t want to put words into other people’s mouths.

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“But with me, the use of any form of WMB would be unacceptable.

“We will not let it stand, it will result in decisive consequential actions and all options are on the table.

“Words to that effect, in a public policy statement, and we didn’t get it and it’s really unfortunate.

“And what it does it leaves in the minds of Putin and his  leaders just what would the reaction be, ambiguous like that and I think it’s very unfortunate.”

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Fear of the Russian military deploying chemical biological weapons has been heightened.

Ukrainian outlet InformNapalm has warned that: “Our conclusions may sound premature or too apocalyptic, but after the missile attacks and bombing of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, which the Russian army resorted to, we believe that it is necessary to make these data public and try to thwart any such intentions of Russia.”

And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Thursday: “We’ve tried to be very clear about the gravity of the use of any such chemical weapons.

“These are agents that should never be employed and certainly not on the battlefield, as we are concerned Russia might.”



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