RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin considers the SNP to be a threat and will oppose Scottish independence, according to a former government foreign policy adviser.

International affairs analyst David Clark claims the SNP's success in forging closer links with the European Union and NATO has allegedly led to Putin's stance shifting.

Speaking to The Times, Clark said: “In 2014 the clear-cut strategic calculation for Russia was that independence would benefit their agenda of trying to prise apart western institutions and promote the break-up of Western countries.

“Scotland would not only be leaving the UK, but at least initially leaving Nato and the EU with question marks over how quickly they would be able to rejoin. After Brexit, the picture is more mixed. Independence would still have implications for UK defence, particularly Trident, but the purpose of independence now would be an act of reintegration to some extent, by rejoining the EU and seeking quick membership of Nato.

“What swings it is the clear position of the SNP leadership to strengthen the very institutions that Russia wants to try and weaken.”

Clark also claimed that the SNP were now a clear target for the Russian president, citing recent examples of Russia Today attempting to undermine SNP defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald who has criticised Russia's influence in the media.

McDonald also warned the Yes movement to be wary of Russian trolls and bots attempting to influence the debate around independence.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of RT, claimed that McDonald was “haunted by the ghost of the Loch Ness Monster”.

In recent years RT has picked up many high-profile Scottish voices such as Alex Salmond and George Galloway to present its programming.

Tommy Sheridan is also involved.