Scottish Independence and Scotland's Future Ed Means Column
How the UK government shortchanges Scottish Defense
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has not yet fully comprehended that
Scotlands Independence is not merely fantasy and that independent
Scotland will have defence policies that differ significantly from those
of the UK. A case in point is maritime defence of its offshore oil, gas
and energy (e.g. tidal, wind) resources. Also independent Scotland will
have no requirement for aircraft carriers, nuclear weapons or nuclear
submarines. In fact, the MoD has gradually reduced the once-strong
defence of Scotlands northern seas to virtually zero.
Here is a case in point:
On 21 December 2013 The Scotsman newspaper reported the following:
Royal Navy was believed to be shadowing at least one Russian naval
vessel off the coast of Scotland last night after it sailed near the
Moray Firth while on exercise in the North Sea.
The Baltic Fleet vessel is believed to be a warship and was part of an
operation being carried out in the area. It was described by a source as
a Russian Task Group suggesting more than one ship may have been
involved. The [UK] Ministry of Defence would not comment on the incident
or on whether the Russians had entered British territorial waters, which
stretch out around 14 miles from the coast, although it was thought to
be unlikely. The entire article is available at
It follows a similar incident in December 2011 when several ships from
the Baltic Fleet arrived 30 miles off the Moray Firth, including the
huge aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the anti-submarine warfare ship
Admiral Chabanenko and escort the Yaroslav Mudryy. The escort was most
likely a surface and air defense vessel.
The Russian military stated at the time that the fleet was on route to
Syria and took shelter in the Moray Firth when faced with deteriorating
weather conditions. Some commentators believe that Russia was then and
is now testing Britains response times to such an incursion.
The 2011 incident was the first time a vessel the size of the
65,000-tonne Kuznetsov had deployed near UK waters and the closest a
Russian task force had sailed to the UK in two decades.
The Royal Navy has no seagoing vessels based in Scotland;
however, a Royal Navy vessel was thought to be deployed from the south
coast of England to shadow the Russian ship. But by the time it would
arrive at the Russian ships location, the Russians would be long
Regarding the most recent incursion, Angus Robertson, the Scottish
National Party leader at Westminster and MP for Moray, said last night:
This is just the latest example illustrating the unacceptable priority
the UK government gives to northern defence and security.
The RAF has no maritime patrol aircraft and the Royal Navy has no
conventional ocean-going vessels based in Scotland. These capabilities
are essential to properly managing northern security matters. After a
Yes vote in 2014 Scotland will join our northern European neighbours
like Norway and Denmark who take these challenges seriously and which
will to be to the benefit to all in north Europe, including the rest of
In May 2007, Tornado F3 jets from RAF Leuchars in Fife were sent to
intercept two Russian aircraft spotted observing a Royal Navy exercise
over the Western Isles.
They were identified as Tupolev Tu-142 Bear Foxtrot planes, commonly
seen by RAF pilots during the Cold War and which feature in the Tom
Clancy thriller The Hunt for Red October.
The Russian aircraft were escorted from the area by the RAF, who said no
radio contact took place between the pilots, before returning to their
base in Murmansk.
If the result of the Referendum on 18 September is Yes, Scotland will be
able to plan, procure and employ its own defenses and develop mutual
defense plans in cooperation with other countries in the region. If the
result in No, Scotland will be at the mercy of the UK.
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