Over the weekend, I’ve been talking to Falkirk (the largest constituency in Scotland by population, by the way, and very representative of public opinion across Scotland and the UK) area folk about the Ukraine. Here are two messages they’ve been consistently coming up with.
First, whether or not they’re a supporter of independence they’ve been struck by the paradox of the EU and everyone else lining up to say how an independent Scotland would be shut out of everything yet the same EU seems very keen to welcome the Ukraine into the EU and to stand up for nationalism there.
Second, the Crimea is right on Russia’s borders and there’s just been a putsch of a democratically-elected government there. If Scotland voted for independence and a new elected leader was forced from office, and if there was widespread insecurity, how laid back would the rest of the UK be about the nuclear submarine base in Scotland?
It’s understandable that western governments are making noises about the Russian incursion into the Ukraine. But that the NATO secretary general should be pledging to defend the Ukraine (not a NATO member, obv) is a classically bumptious expression of a nordic politician who knows his words won’t be heeded by anyone serious. And it’s seriously inflammatory.
The Ukraine has a mass of Russian citizens and Russian speakers; they’re mainly in the East around the Crimea. Russia has its only warm-water naval fleet based there, along with 15000 personnel. What, exactly, did the EU leadership think would happen if West-facing Ukrainians ignored their East-facing neighbours and heeded EU calls to putsch their leadership and demand entry to the EU and all the associated institutions?
In the end, Putin will defend Russian interests. So would the US, rightly, if Cuba had a putsch and tried to tear down the wires of Guantanamo. So would the UK if there was any jiggery-pokery at Faslane.
So let’s get real, maybe?