THE world awoke on Thursday to the horrific news that Russia invaded unoccupied Ukraine. It was a moment many had feared for eight years since the annexation of Crimea and the covert intervention in eastern Ukraine, and none more so than Ukrainians themselves.

World leaders and officials have condemned the invasion. Scotland is no exception to this. The SNP have been strong in their criticism of the invasion, as have all the other major parties. All have called for the withdrawal of the Russian military and for Ukrainian independence to be respected.

However, several parties have links to the Putin regime. The Conservatives have accepted numerous donations from figures close to Putin. The leader of All 4 Unity, George Galloway, is a regular contributor to RT, the Russian state broadcaster. Several senior figures in the Alba Party are also involved in RT, thanks to Alex Salmond hosting a show on the broadcaster which he suspended on Thursday afternoon.

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But this week Alba have aligned themselves more closely with Putin in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Alba condemned the invasion and called for sanctions against Russia and MP Neale Hanvey issued a lengthy statement on behalf of the party the recognition of the Russian-backed separatists by the Putin regime and stating that to achieve peace Ukrainian independence needed to be balanced against Russia’s security concerns. It is the stance on Russia’s security concerns that marks Alba as distinct from the rest of the independence movement, as expressed here

The National:

Nato is not beyond reproach and it is not an illegitimate political opinion to be anti-Nato. It is a military alliance that includes among its membership the leading world power and a collection of former colonial powers, many of whom have committed atrocities themselves.

But ultimately Nato is not the cause of this war. Putin himself has made it clear. To him, Ukraine is not a country. It simply does not have the right to self-determination because he sees it as part of Russia.

He blamed Lenin for creating an apparently false nation. To Putin, Ukraine is simply a portion of the Tsarist Empire that was lost and now must be reclaimed. Nato didn’t cause this war, Russian imperialism did. Alba’s statement that the conflict should be resolved by balancing Ukrainian independence against Russian security concerns is contradictory. The very independence of Ukraine is a security concern to Putin. Russian recognition of Ukraine’s independence and withdrawal of military assets from all its territory is the only long-term peaceful solution.

The National:

But more than that, Alba’s logic is severely flawed and contradictory of their own support for the principle of self-determination. By Alba’s thinking, Russia’s cultural and historical links with Ukraine, alongside its security fears regarding Nato expansion, give it a voice in Ukraine’s future.

By this logic, all large countries have the implicit right to intervene militarily in their smaller neighbours whenever they feel threatened by the foreign policy decisions of that smaller neighbour seeing as their security and foreign policy concerns are apparently equal in standing to the independence of their neighbours. This is a blatant trampling of that principle of self-determination that Alba champion.

Extending this logic to other countries helps us understand the futility Alba’s stance. If security concerns are equal to another country’s independence and sovereignty, then the American blockade of Cuba is justified. As too would be a British re-conquest of Ireland or a French one of Algeria if those large nations felt their former colonies possessed a grave enough security threat to them or pursued policies not to their liking.

On a subject closer to home, what would happen if Scotland became independent tomorrow? In this hypothetical scenario, what happens if Scotland refuses to join Nato?

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Or joins the EU? Or even becomes a republic? None of these policy moves would be looked upon favourably by the current government in London.

Do our extensive cultural and historic links with England justify the British army occupying the Scottish Borders? In this scenario would a modern-day Edward Balliol step forth to serve as prime minister of the separatist Kingdom of Galloway, sworn by oath to the British crown and kept in office by British bayonets? This is, of course, unthinkable but it does illustrate the flaws in Alba’s stance regarding Russia’s motivations in occupying Ukraine.

It is unclear why Alba have decided on this course. What is clear is that Alba’s stance is markedly different from the position of unequivocal condemnation from the major Scottish parties and the wider independence movement.

Alba are not just outside the political consensus on this but outside the bounds of their own logic regarding self-determination.

As a pro-independence party, they should be able to unequivocally champion the principle of self-determination.

Reuben Duffy is a freelance writer and recently authored an academic report focused on Scotland’s foreign policy footprint and its place in the UK constitution