The First Minister made her remarks during a trip to the United States in which she claimed the erstwhile “unthinkable” plans for both Sweden and Finland to move to join NATO, coupled with Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, had bolstered her opinion that Scotland’s future security depended on NATO membership.
Significantly, she claimed membership of both the alliance and the European Union would be “cornerstones” of the security policy of an independent Scotland.
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “These remarks are utterly tasteless and out of touch.”
“It’s disgraceful to use the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine to make the argument for separation, and it’s also undeniably the case that breaking up the UK would weaken the West.
“When the world is coming together to face today’s challenges, only the SNP could think the solution turns inwards and create division.”
Addressing the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said: “The party I lead, the Scottish National Party determined back in 2012 – at that time a reversal of a longstanding position – that should Scotland become independent it should seek membership of NATO.”
“There is no doubt that the events of the last three months have strengthened my conviction that this position is absolutely the right and essential one.”
She added: “I am even more firm in my view today that, coupled with a strong relationship with the United Kingdom, membership of the European Union and membership of Nato will be cornerstones of an independent Scotland’s security policy.”
The First Minister went on outline Scotland’s “strategic position” in the world, adding: “We are clearer than ever that membership of NATO would not only be vital to Scotland’s security – though it would most certainly be that – 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.”
Ms Sturgeon’s remarks have also irked the Scottish Greens, with whom the Scottish National Party entered into a power-sharing agreement in August 2021.
Ross Greer, who is a West Scotland list MSP, told BBC’s The Nine the party disagrees with the SNP over NATO membership.
Mr Greer said: “It’s no surprise to anyone that the Scottish Greens and the SNP have different positions on NATO.”
“For the Scottish Greens, we enthusiastically believe in co-operation, especially in areas like security and defence.”
He explained: “We agree with the first minister that Scotland has a really positive role to play in Europe’s collective security arrangements.”
“But we disagree on membership of Nato for two reasons. Patrick Harvie lists one of them and that is Nato’s first-strike nuclear policy.”
“Nato reserves the right to launch the first strike in a nuclear war.”
“That would be world ending and we believe that is simply evil. No-one has the right to do that and we believe it would be morally wrong for Scotland to join such an alliance.”
Mr Greer added: “But it is a NATO policy. First strike is not about responding to an attack, first strike is about the right to launch, to actually start that war, to start the last world war, because it would be the war that ended the world as we know it. That’s the nature of nuclear weapons.’
“The very existence of nuclear weapons risks the chance of nuclear war. “If we want to persuade rogue and hostile states to reduce their nuclear stockpiles, asking them to do it, demanding that they do it unilaterally, has no chance of success.”
“This is a fundamental moral question. I don’t want the last thing that my country potentially does in its existence is to wipe another country off the map. Nuclear weapons are simply evil.”