THERE is “no direct comparison” between the situation in Ukraine and Scotland's constitutional position, the Scottish Government’s Constitution Secretary has said after opposition politicians attacked comments made by his predecessor on the topic.

Michael Russell, who is now the SNP president but previously held Angus Robertson’s constitution brief while in government, drew the ire of Unionist politicians when he wrote in his National column: “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.”

Former Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie described the comment as “utterly crass”, while Tory MSP Stephen Kerr said: “It's not hard to put the politics aside for just a moment as we look to maximise our support for the Ukrainian people.”

The National:

Russell’s writing was originally published in Saturday’s National, before being republished on the SNP blog on Tuesday, under the headline: “Three things Scotland must consider in its response to the Ukraine invasion.”

One of those three suggestions was Russell’s call to be “vigorous in the absolute and consistent defence of self-determination”.

“Ireland’s Taoiseach made the point well by drawing attention to the need for small nations to be particularly active in that regard,” he went on.

“The right of people to choose how they are governed and by whom is an absolute and must be universally applied, respecting each and every democratic mandate. Nor can that right be circumscribed by history – 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.”

After a row between Unionists and pro-independence figures on the comments, Robertson told ITV Border about his position.

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“Well, there is no direct comparison between Ukraine – a country fighting to retain its independence, its sovereignty, its territorial integrity, against military aggressors and us in Scotland, a democratic country able to make a decision about its future.

“We voted to be able to make a decision about our future, and that is exactly what we should do. But there is no direct comparison between what is happening in Ukraine and what is happening in Scotland.

“Where there is a comparison, is that people in this country look toward Ukraine with the greatest of sympathy, and wish us all to do everything that we can do to help them in their hour of need and that’s exactly what the Scottish Government is …”

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Asked if it was wrong for the party president to make that comment, Robertson said he wouldn’t be drawn into “he said, she said”, but stressed again that there was no comparison.

Speaking to The National on Tuesday, Russell accused Rennie of attempting to “get publicity in any way” with his statement on the Ukraine comments.

He told the newspaper: “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 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.

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

“Not all publicity is good publicity, Willie.”