THE SNP President has hit back after opposition politicians accused him of drawing links between the situation in Ukraine and Scottish independence.

Michael Russell drew Unionist ire after a column in The National, in which he drew attention to the links between dirty Russian money and the Tory party, as well as praising the response from most independence supporters to the war in Ukraine.

He slammed Brexit as a project which had the backing of the Kremlin and said “shady individuals have bought political influence” in the UK on the Tories’ watch.

READ MORE: Michael Russell: Three ways Scotland must respond to the Ukraine invasion

The column was reposted by the SNP’s website and sparked fury among Unionists because of comments made which former LibDem leader Willie Rennie (below) said made “crass” links between the Russian invasion and the Scottish independence referendum.

LibDem MSP Willie Rennie was branded 'ludicrous' by the SNP president Michael Russell (right)

Russell wrote: “Just because something was, doesn’t mean it will always continue to be so whether that be rule from Moscow, or the result of an eight-year-old referendum.”

Speaking to The National, he accused Rennie of attempting to “get publicity in any way”.

Russell added: “Willie Rennie is a ludicrous figure and this totally inaccurate attack will simply confirm that to anyone who has read the piece.

"The President of Ukraine is a comedian who has become a serious politician, Willie Rennie has moved in the opposite direction.”

The LibDem's statement, issued on Tuesday afternoon, referred to the piece as a “blog” – but was in fact a column in The National, Russell (below) pointed out.

LibDem MSP Willie Rennie was branded 'ludicrous' by the SNP president Michael Russell (right)

READ MORE: Tory MP Adam Holloway should 'not have travelled to Ukraine'

“He couldn’t even get that right,” he said.

“I’m not going to justify it.

“The attempt to get himself publicity in any way, we know about Willie, we’ve seen him performing alongside a ridiculous cast of animals and props over the years.

LibDem MSP Willie Rennie was branded 'ludicrous' by the SNP president Michael Russell (right)

“This is just crass stupidity and he needs to step back and think again.

“Not all publicity is good publicity, Willie.”

Rennie made a name for himself while head of the LibDems in Scotland because of his taste for comical photoshoots, often involving farm animals and absurdly large garden furniture.

In a statement, Rennie said: “There's enough hot air coming off Mike Russell to end dependence on Russian oil and gas

"Likening the longevity of the 2014 referendum result in any way to rule from Moscow is one of the stupider things I have heard from a senior SNP figure.”

Russell also said it was a “sign of political maturity” there were so few voices within the independence movement backing Putin and those who had were “on the outermost fringes of our national life”.