SCOTLAND harbours two “high priority targets” for Russian “precision strikes” in the event of war, according to a resurfaced Nato report.
Produced by the Combined Joint Operations from the Sea Centre of Excellence in Virginia, the report assesses Russia’s growing “Bastion Defence” strategy in the North Atlantic.
The report says: “In the unlikely event of an armed conflict between Russia and NATO, striking and occupying operations should be expected from Russian joint forces, especially on vital infrastructure and military forces.
“Important airbases like Keflavik (Iceland), Andoeya (Norway) and Kinloss (Scotland) as well as submarine bases like Faslane (Scotland) and Haakonsvern (Norway) would likely be on a high priority target list.”
The naval base at Faslane which is near Helensburgh and 40 miles from Glasgow is host to the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent submarines. The site is highly controversial and has been subject to protests opposing the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Scotland.
The report says: “Other strategic and operational targets, such as national and NATO headquarters, and important civilian infrastructure such as harbours and petroleum depots, would likely be targeted as well. This would demand extensive military and logistical efforts.
“Even though Special Forces operations, air strikes and precision strike may be conducted, it may not be sustainable over a prolonged period. Nevertheless, in times of crisis or conflict, it should be expected that Russia would deploy submarines to areas north and south of GIUK in order to conduct sea denial operations and threaten Allied sea lines of communication (SLOC), trying to ensure their submarines the best operating conditions possible.
Submarines deployed to this area would have the ability to conduct short-notice precision strikes, both in large parts of central Europe, the United Kingdom and the North American continent.”
GIUK refers to the gap between Greenland, Iceland and the UK in the north Atlantic. This area is where the area of travel for Russian submarines narrows as they move south into the Atlantic ocean. As such, it is a key line of defence.
Despite being published in 2020, the report has recently resurfaced as the importance of its findings are increasingly relevant in light of the war in Ukraine.
Calls have been made by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy for western countries to implement a no-fly zone over Ukraine which would force those implementing the measure to shoot down any Russian plane that enters Ukrainian airspace. Many have argued that this would not be appropriate as it could force western countries to become directly involved and risk escalation of the conflict.
Indeed, last month Putin said that if western countries were to enter the war they would face “consequences they have never seen” which many have taken as a thinly veiled threat of Russia using nuclear weapons.
More recently, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the country’s security council, reasserted the grounds upon which Russia will launch a nuclear attack.
He said: “We have a special document on nuclear deterrence. This document clearly indicates the grounds on which the Russian Federation is entitled to use nuclear weapons. There are a few of them, let me remind them to you: number one is the situation when Russia is struck by a nuclear missile. The second case is any use of other nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies.
“The third is an attack on a critical infrastructure that will have paralysed our nuclear deterrent forces. And the fourth case is when an act of aggression is committed against Russia and its allies, which jeopardised the existence of the country itself, even without the use of nuclear weapons, that is, with the use of conventional weapons.”
These recent developments have brought the presence of nuclear weapons in Scotland back to the forefront of debate as some say they have “no place in civilised society”.
Ross Greer MSP, Scottish Greens external affairs spokesperson, said:
“Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has raised the spectre of nuclear war, an outcome that would be catastrophic for humanity. Whilst his military’s repeated tactical and strategic failures in Ukraine have revealed how weak they would be in a full-scale conventional war against a united Europe, it’s clear that the UK’s nuclear arsenal makes the west of Scotland a likely target were the worst-case scenario of nuclear war to become a reality.
“Nuclear weapons have no place in civilised society and I look forward to the day soon when an independent Scotland removes these truly evil devices from our shores.”