Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to break up the UK would put Britain at risk from Putin, as the Government has warned that military based in Scotland plays an “important role” in defending against Putin in the Arctic. The Scottish Affairs Committee has opened up an inquiry into Scotland’s role in UK defence of the North Atlantic and the Arctic. Pete Wishart, chair of the committee, said Scotland is “the heart of the UK’s military capabilities”, raising questions for what would happen if the devolved nation were to break away from the UK.
He said that the security of the North Atlantic and the surrounding countries “has never been so important in modern times”.
The “mini-inquiry” will identify what the UK Government can do to further bolster North Atlantic and Arctic defence capabilities in Scotland, while the Scottish Affairs Committee will examine Scotland’s role in the UK Government’s Arctic Strategy, which was published in March 2022.
Mr Wishart said: “From the navy to the RAF, Scotland is the heart of the UK’s military capabilities.
“As the world is exposed to increased geopolitical tensions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the security of the North Atlantic and the surrounding countries has never been so important in modern times.
“The UK Government’s Arctic Strategy, published earlier this year, recognises this and outlines how the UK is operating in new ways to adapt to any threats.
“Our Committee will be examining the role that Scottish-based defence capabilities will play in this changing landscape, and how the Arctic Strategy is being delivered in Scotland.”
Professor Azeem Ibrahim, a Scottish foreign policy expert, told Express.co.uk Scotland plays “an absolutely integral part of the security apparatus of the UK”.
But he questioned whether it would be able to “maintain the same level of defence as it currently enjoys” if it were to become independent.
Professor Ibrahim, Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, explained: “The security environment has changed dramatically.
“Russia has now reemerged as a major threat in continental Europe. So when independence first emerged, nobody had anticipated that this wouldn’t be the case.
“But now a belligerent Russia and a rising China is interfering with nations all across Europe and exporting their values and making sure that those nations don’t step out of line.
“Scotland is an absolutely integral part of the security apparatus of the UK.
“So the challenge is for an independent Scotland – would it actually be able to maintain the same level of defence as it currently enjoys with the UK security umbrella?
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“The UK has the leading armed forces in Europe. With submarine and naval forces, we are able to secure our borders and there have been multiple occasions in which those areas have been breached by Russian submarines and planes. All of this is clearly anchored by an intelligence operation.
“How will Scotland manage with all of this in a post-independence environment?”
Last year, defence expert John Gower claimed that Trident may be forced overseas or halted if Scotland gains independence because key Trident assets – such as the Faslane submarine base, the warhead loading site at Coulport, and nearby testing ranges – are all located in Scotland or Scottish waters.
Mr Gower, a rear admiral at the time of the 2014 independence referendum, concluded in a European Leadership Network paper: “A Scottish secession would therefore generate fundamental operational and fiscal issues for the UK’s nuclear deterrent.”