SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has insisted there is “no connection” between the war in Ukraine and the campaign for Scottish independence, after a top party official was condemned for appearing to make “crass” comparison between the two.
Mike Russell, the SNP’s president, was criticized by opposition parties after he used a newspaper column to like Ukraine potentially being ruled by Russia to Scotland part of the UK.
“Just because something was, doesn’t mean it will always continue to be so whether that be rule from Moscow, or the result of an eight-year-old referendum,” he wrote.
It came as SNP MSP Michelle Thomson apologized after tweeting about Ukraine’s emergency application to join the EU accompanied by the message: “Just goes to show what political will can achieve. Remember this Scotland!”
Ms Thomson, the MSP for Falkirk East, subsequently deleted her post and wrote: “I noted and then tweeted something earlier that was insensitive regarding Ukraine … Apologies if I offended anyone.”
Mr Russell’s comments were branded “crass” by Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie, who said he was astounded a senior SNP figure “would seek to draw any parallels to the democratic decision of the people of Scotland”.
Asked about Mr Russell’s remarks on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said: “There is no connection between a war in Ukraine and the support and campaign for independence in Scotland.”
Scotland’s first minister claimed it would be “overstating things” to suggest that comparisons had been made between Ukraine and the Scottish independence campaign.
The SNP leader added: “What I think should unite all of us right now are some fundamental values, the values that underpin I think much of our democracy in Scotland – and certainly underpin my party and the independence movement.
“The commitment to democracy, freedom, the rule of international law and the value of the world coming together in solidarity.”
Responding to Ms Sturgeon’s comments, Mr Rennie said: “I’m glad Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear to her supporters that there is no connection between the war in Ukraine and Scottish independence.”
He added: “I hope this puts an end to crass and insensitive remarks so we can now unite behind the people of Ukraine.”
The row follows outrage over remarks made by Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams, who appeared to like Vladimir Putin’s claim of a right to rule Ukraine to England’s treatment of Wales.
The Welsh nationalist party’s defense spokesman, claimed there is “a particular menace” for Wales in the Russian president denying Ukraine is a country in its own right.
Mr Williams wrote in a newspaper column: “Ukraine is not a real country he says. It does not have a right to exist. It is he, far away in Moscow, who has the right to rule. We in Wales are familiar with these arguments.”
Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, hit back at the comments, saying: “Wales is a willing and democratic part of the United Kingdom. To draw any comparison is at best insensitive and, at worst, minimizes what Ukrainians are going through.”