Putin ‘shot himself in the foot’ with Nordic NATO applications
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The First Minister said the Russian invasion of Ukraine had “strengthened” her belief that an independent Scotland must join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Speaking from the Brookings Institution, an American think-tank in Washington, she said joining the alliance was “absolutely right and essential”. “It will be the cornerstone of an independent Scotland’s security policy,” she insisted. But an expert has warned that Sturgeon’s ambitions will be thwarted by the SNP’s opposition to nuclear weapons and desire to scrap the Trident deterrent.
Asked whether Sturgeon could join NATO while refusing to cooperate on nuclear weapons agreements, Dr Alexandra Walmsley, Defence analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, told Express.co.uk: “No. You can’t be half in and half out. If you’ve joined NATO, then you are part of NATO, and you can’t pick and choose what bits of NATO you want.
“It’s a bit like saying, ‘oh, yes well we want our nuclear warheads on our territory removed after this war’. But it doesn’t work like that.
“It sounds like it’s good politics. Sounds great. But that’s not how it works.”
NATO is a nuclear-tipped alliance and Trident forms part of its “supreme guarantee” of its members’ security.
But the SNP has a policy of removing Trident from the Faslane naval base on the Clyde should Scotland separate from the UK.
In March, an adviser to Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister stated that the Russian invasion “wouldn’t have started” if her country had not given up its nuclear weapons in the nineties.
Two months later, Sweden and Finland have confirmed they will apply for NATO membership, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the key reason for this historic shift.
Sweden stayed neutral in World War II and for more than two centuries has avoided joining military alliances.
Meanwhile, Finland – which shares a 810-mile border with Russia – had stayed out of NATO to avoid antagonising its eastern neighbour.
Dr Walmsley continued: “Four months ago, people were questioning the purpose of NATO.
“Why do we have this old fashioned historic Alliance from the Cold War?
“And now you have countries who had hitherto pledged permanent neutrality queuing up to join NATO.
“Never has the rationale for the organisation been as clear as it is now.”
But Ms Sturgeon’s Green coalition partners in the Scottish Government said there was “no appetite” among its members to reverse their opposition to joining the defence alliance.
Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “[nuclear weapons] don’t keep us safe – they keep us in peril”.
The SNP has also continued to argue that Britain should unilaterally give up its nuclear deterrent, even after Putin boasted that he had conducted the first successful test of a new missile known as “Satan II”, which carries a dozen warheads.
Despite the apparent contradiction, Ms Sturgeon told the US audience that Sweden and Finland being “firmly on track” to join NATO was “highly relevant to Scotland”.
She said: “There is no doubt the events of the last three months have strengthened my conviction that this position is absolutely the right and essential one.
“I’m even more firm in my view today that, coupled with a strong relationship with the United Kingdom, membership of the EU, and membership of NATO, would be the cornerstone of an independent Scotland’s security policy.”
Scotland has an important “strategic position” on the northern edge of Europe, she admitted.
Russian military aircraft and submarines have regularly encroached on this territory in recent years.
Reflecting on this, Ms Sturgeon added: “So we are clearer than ever that membership of NATO would not only be vital to Scotland’s security, it would also be the principal way in which an independent Scotland in an interdependent world would contribute to the collective security of our neighbours and allies.”
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