NICOLA Sturgeon has confirmed plans for indyref2 next year will still go ahead in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The First Minister also said she wanted an independent Scotland to be a country which “welcomes refugees” - in an apparent dig at the UK Government who have been criticised for their lacklustre response.

The FM previously committed to holding a second independence referendum in 2023, and was a manifesto pledge of the SNP in the Holyrood 2021 elections.

READ MORE: Daria Kaleniuk, the reporter who confronted Boris Johnson, slams UK refugee failings

It comes after SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford appeared to suggest that the timetable for a second independence referendum should be flexible due to the conflict currently raging in Ukraine.

He said: “I want that referendum to take place in a timely manner. I want us to be able to execute the mandate that we have."

“To those that are expressing a desire for us to get on with our job, of course, we will do so, but we have to be mindful of where we are.”

However, in an interview with LBC, Sturgeon was asked if current events in Europe had influenced her thinking on the referendum timetable.

Nicola Sturgeon confirms indyref2 next year despite Russia's Ukraine invasion

The FM (above) said: “My plans and my thinking hasn't changed.

“We, right now, should be reminded, above all else, how lucky we are to live in a free democracy where we can put forward our case for political constitutional change, argue that case passionately, whatever our views on that might be, and trust people to decide.”

We previously told how support for independence is neck and neck, according to the latest polling from Savanta ComRes.

The pollster found that backing for leaving the Union has changed little since the beginning of the year when they recorded a 50/50 split for Yes and No.

The latest numbers showed a slight change to 51% for No and 49% for Yes.

READ MORE: Tory minister gives pathetic excuse on UK's influx of Ukrainian refugees

The First Minister also said that Scottish independence would allow the country to play a bigger role in the humanitarian response.

Scotland has already promised to send £4 million in humanitarian aid and supplies. 

However, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel have been heavily criticised for refusing to waive visas for Ukrainian refugees.

Last week it was revealed that only 50 visa applications had been accepted. The figure rose to 760 by Wednesday 9 March, but there are multiple reports of chaos and confusion at Home Office application centres in mainland Europe.

Nicola Sturgeon confirms indyref2 next year despite Russia's Ukraine invasion

FM Nicola Sturgeon (right) meets Senia Urquhart at the Edinburgh Ukrainian Club

The First Minister said: “I support independence for a whole variety of reasons, but one of the motivations for my support for independence is to see Scotland play a bigger role, albeit as a small country, in building a more peaceful world, to be a progressive, constructive international partner, to be a progressive country that welcomes refugees.

“And sees Scotland as a place of sanctuary, a country that sees the benefits we stand to gain from having people come here and make a contribution to our society.

“And, actually, all of these issues right now, I think are brought into sharp focus by the tragedy that is unfolding in Ukraine.”

After visiting the Ukrainian Club in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the FM said that the UK was “not doing nearly enough” to support refugees fleeing the conflict.