NICOLA Sturgeon has said she is “appalled” that Alex Salmond has failed to cut ties with Russia Today (RT) as she backed calls for the Kremlin-supporter station to be banned.

The First Minister spoke out against her predecessor as Ofgem was ordered by the Tory government to review the operation of the news channel in the UK.

Writing to the regulator, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said RT was “demonstrably part of Russia’s global disinformation campaign”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed in the Commons that Dorries had taken the step after Vladimir Putin began an invasion of Ukraine.

Sturgeon told STV she supports calls for the broadcaster to be taken off air in Scotland, and raised concerns about Salmond’s involvement. The former SNP leader has fronted a show on the network since 2017.

“It’s a matter for Ofcom, but I do think there is now a very serious question about whether RT should continue to have a licence to broadcast here in Scotland,” the First Minister said. “And I would certainly encourage Ofcom to look at that very, very seriously and closely indeed.”

Reflecting on Russian aggression in Ukraine this week, she added: “I’m appalled at Alex Salmond’s continued involvement with RT. I don’t think it’s any secret now that I didn’t think he should ever have had a television show on RT.

“But it is even more unthinkable now that that should continue.”

The SNP leader continued: “For a variety of other reasons, I am not answerable for Alex Salmond, but hopefully he will reflect.

“I don’t think any elected representative right now should be contemplating appearing on RT.”

The National: Alex Salmond during the launch of his RT chat show The Alex Salmond Show, at Millbank Tower in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 9, 2017. The former first minister announced he will present the programme on the Russian

“I will give that message, have given that message, to elected representatives here in the Scottish Parliament. I know Ian Blackford has done so in Westminster.”

Sturgeon said that she hopes no SNP member will appear on the channel as she warned of the dire situation facing Ukraine.

She told STV: “You know, every elected representative has to take their own decisions, but right now, when the international community should be standing united against Putin, against his aggression, against his egregious breach of international law, then appearing on RT, which in many ways as we know is a state-backed broadcaster there to help Putin spread his propaganda, then I think that would be something that is completely wrong for any elected representative to do.”

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The SNP leader added: “Ukraine is facing a potentially existential crisis here from a brutal dictator and aggressor. And all of us have to think about what we can do as individuals, as governments, as political parties, to make sure that we don’t give any succour to Putin and his regime.”

After Prime Minister’s Questions, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked whether Johnson would correct comments he made about Salmond.

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Salmond is no longer an SNP member but Johnson, in response to Blackford’s criticism of the UK’s sanctions against the Kremlin, said his “indignation is, I’m afraid, a bit much coming from somebody whose very own Alex Salmond is a leading presenter on … as far as I know … on Russia Today, which the Leader of the Opposition has just called on this country to ban”.

Raising a point of order, Blackford said: “Alex Salmond has got nothing to do with the Scottish National Party.”

He added: “The SNP has made it quite clear that no parliamentarian is permitted to appear on RT.”

Labour and the Scottish Greens are also backing demands for RT to be taken off air.

Ross Greer MSP, Scottish Greens external affairs spokesperson, said: “Alex Salmond’s continued involvement with Putin’s RT propaganda department is utterly disgraceful.

"He’d struggle to disgrace his own reputation more than is already the case, but as a former first minister this is causing real reputational damage to Scotland too.

"If he and the Kremlin’s other useful idiot George Galloway still possessed an ounce of integrity they’d quit that channel immediately. The fact that neither will speaks volumes.” 

In her letter to Ofcom, Dorries said certain states sought to “exploit and undermine” the UK’s media landscape.

She said RT’s editor-in-chief had “made clear in the past” that the station supported the Kremlin’s aims, by calling the broadcaster an “information weapon” of the Russian state.

But some politicians and journalists raised concerns that banning the channel in the UK would lead to damaging retaliation from Russia.

Tory MP for High Peak Robert Largan said he would be “cautious” about banning the channel.

He wrote on Twitter: “Putin would respond by banning the BBC in Russia, which actually cuts through his propaganda to millions.”

He suggested RT was mostly ignored by those in the UK.

Max Seddon, Financial Times Moscow bureau chief, agreed. Responding to Dorries' letter, he warned: "This would have a nearly meaningless effect in the UK, where RT’s viewership is minuscule, while putting the invaluable BBC and its Russian service under serious pressure here in Russia."

Alba, the party which Salmond now leads, issued a statement on the Ukraine crisis earlier this week.

The party’s Westminster leader, Neale Hanvey, stated: "Alba condemns the violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russian recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics is a serious breach of the Minsk protocols.”

The party backed calls for sanctions against Russia but said they must be “carefully targeted”.

Hanvey added: “The task is, as it has always been, how to ensure respect for Ukraine’s rights as an independent country including the recognition of the rights of the Russian speaking minority as stated in the Minsk accords.

“All of which has to be reconciled with Russia’s own security interests. That requires our acceptance that assurances were offered in the 1990s about Nato expansion eastward which have not been kept.

“The emphasis at this critical moment should be on de-escalation not escalation. At the end of the day conflict can only be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.”

Alba has been approached for comment on Sturgeon's remarks.