Speaking on STV's Scotland Tonight, the First Minister said the date legislation would be introduced to enable Scotland to hold the independence referendum would be announced "when we've taken the detailed decisions", and told the broadcaster that there were "opportunities that come with Scotland being independent".
"I intend to do everything that is within my power to enable that referendum to happen before the end of 2023, and we will set out exactly what that means in terms of the date of the introduction of legislation when we've taken the detailed decisions around that," said the First Minister.
She told Scotland Tonight: "What I think is much more exciting as we come out, I hope, of the pandemic, and certainly the acute phase of the pandemic, are the opportunities that come with Scotland being independent."
Campaigners against Scotland becoming an independent country have hit out at her remarks.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, branded the First Minister's comments as a "gross insult to the people of Scotland".
"Most people do not support leaving the UK and an overwhelming majority do not believe there should be another referendum any time soon," she said.
"Politicians should focus on what really matters to people and address the challenges facing our NHS, education and the climate, rather than re-opening a tired old debate and seeking a legal battle over the constitution".
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