Russian threat a ‘warning against independence’

Tory MP Rory Stewart has pointed to Russia as a warning against independence. Picture: Neil Hanna
Tory MP Rory Stewart has pointed to Russia as a warning against independence. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE new threat emerging from Russia should act as a warning against Scottish independence, the chairman of the Commons defence select committee has said.

Rory Stewart, the former Black Watch soldier who represents an English Border seat for the Tories, was speaking after his committee published a report demanding that Nato sets up a permanent military presence in the Baltic.

The report came as the crisis in east Ukraine escalated following the shooting-down of Malaysian flight MH17 by rebels backed by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Stewart told Scotland on Sunday that the need for the UK and her Nato allies to rearm to tackle the renewed threat from Russia posed serious questions about the Scottish Government’s plans for a defence force if there is a Yes vote for independence.

He said: “What we need is countries the size of the UK, Germany and France to step up to the plate here to deal with this threat from Russia.
For 20 years now, we have left the defence of Europe to the USA and we have to change that.

“While all countries in Europe need to look at what they are doing, it is the larger countries like Britain which have to do the most.

“That’s not going to be easy as it is but it will be even harder if Scotland were to break away.

“We need to pool our resources.”

A spokesman for the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government is committed to working closely with our neighbours, especially our partners across the British Isles, and in key international institutions such as the European Union, Nato and the United Nations.

“However, as well as that defence co-operation – which is the norm – independence will enable Scotland to set its own defence and security budget and maintain strong conventional defence forces to protect its people, territory, seas, airspace and national interests.”