Putin ‘attempting to undermine UK’ with Scottish news bureau

Sputnik has set up a studio in Edinburgh with a live news programme fronted by Scottish broadcasters. Picture: Contributed
Sputnik has set up a studio in Edinburgh with a live news programme fronted by Scottish broadcasters. Picture: Contributed
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The establishment of a Kremlin-backed news bureau in Edinburgh has been cited by a former deputy commander of Nato as evidence of the growing Russian threat.

General Sir Richard Shirreff believes the UK is stepping closer to war with Vladimir Putin and in a new book warns conflict could be just around the corner.

Speaking to The Scotsman, Sir Richard expressed concerns about the opening of an office by the Russian news operation Sputnik. The presence of Sputnik in the Scottish capital has already sparked fears that Russia is attempting to take advantage of the Brexit vote by broadcasting propaganda to destabilise the UK.

Critics of Sputnik believe the broadcaster has opened an operation in Edinburgh to promote Scottish independence.

Sir Richard said: “This is absolutely typical of the Russian approach to warfare – establishing an internal operating front in the target state and setting out to undermine the institutions of that state.

“What is going to suit Putin better than the break-up of one of the countries that is a lynchpin of Nato? It would absolutely suit Putin if the UK is broken up, regardless of the rights and wrongs of Scottish independence.”

Sputnik’s move to Edinburgh was mentioned by Sir Richard alongside reports Mr Putin is dramatically beefing up his military capacity in the Baltic as reasons for taking the Russian threat very seriously.

Sputnik has been criticised for giving credence to suggestions that the 2014 Scottish independence referendum was rigged and the killing of the Labour MP Jo Cox was somehow connected to the Remain campaign.

Sir Richard’s book 2017 War with Russia: An Urgent Warning from Senior Military Command is a work of fiction, but is based on his experience as a British Army officer and as Nato’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

Sputnik’s UK press office said: “Sputnik is not sure how its professional coverage of major worldwide issues could be threatening to UK state institutions; unless those institutions consider British citizens having access to unbiased and accurate information to be a threat. We hope they would not.”