SO, there we have it. The Russians have said what we in Scotland have known for some time (The humiliation of Boris... and Westminster, The National, April 10). The UK is a second-rate, inconsequential world power, which no-one – least of all the Russians – has any intention of listening to, or taking advice from.

If ever there was a perfect political put-down that was it. Like most of the rest of the world – in fact everyone outside the Tory and Ukip parties – we know Fallon, Johnson, May and their kind are figures of fun who hang dutifully on the coat-tails of Uncle Sam (no doubt hoping for that wonderful trade deal) and repeat parrot fashion exactly what he says.

Of course, it makes it easier for them as they have no constructive foreign policy of their own, and it is much safer for Boris to just repeat what he’s been told rather than come away with any of his own statements that could conceivably be so inflammatory they might spark an international incident.

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Compare this with the measured and responsible reaction of the SNP’s Stephen Gethins and Alex Salmond on the issue. Worlds and thought processes apart. The very fact that the Scottish Government has refrained from becoming involved is also a measure of our more responsible style of government.

So where does it all end? With a bit of luck Trump will be sated with his first Bush-esque gung-ho international intervention, and he will get bored and go back to fake news hunting.

The Russians will continue to ignore the rest of the world and do as they please in this arena, and the UK will huff and puff with righteous indignation about how no-one is listening to their empire-inspired drivel.

But what now for the Donald and his love affair with Putin? Was it all just a schoolboy infatuation or does he intend to schmooze him at a future date – perhaps after he’s righted the US/China trade imbalance? One thing is clear though – Trump does not multi task!

Ade Hegney Helensburgh BORIS Johnson had a long-standing meeting arranged for yesterday in Moscow until he spoke to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who is meeting the Russians on Wednesday.

It appears the UK Foreign Secretary has been told to stay at home and leave this one to the big boys.

As a consolation, Johnson has been given instead the opportunity to be a big fish backing up the US at the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Italy, where the US will come under serious pressure from Italy, Germany, France, Canada and Japan over its actions in Syria and now North Korea.

When it comes to the so-called special relationship between the UK and the US, the Great British Cringe knows no bounds. Successive UK Governments have proved willing to pay almost any price to appear in the role of a big hitter on the international scene.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

RUSSIA, or at the very least the Russian people, ought to be some of our closest allies, but instead we are foolishly burning bridges because Moscow is helping Syria’s President Bashir al-Assad. So are we supporting the rebels?  They are: Al-Nusra Front (Syrian al-Qaeda), Daesh (funded and supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey), Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (supported by the Saudis and Turkey) Sham Legion (Muslim Brotherhood), Asala wa-al-Tanmiya (funded by the Saudis and supported by the US), Jaysh al-Islam (funded by Turkey), Jaish al-Fatah or the Army of Conquest (supported and funded by the Saudis and Turkey).

What is their aim? To topple Assad and install freedom, human rights and democracy? No! They aim to extend the scope of the global caliphate (Ummah) to all parts of the world where Sharia will then be imposed on all Muslims and non-Muslims alike. My hope is that Muslims can reform Islam for the modern age: who else can? No ideology should be exempt from criticism, especially the dangerous ones that cannot be excused indefinitely. Until Turkey and Saudi Arabia et al are no threat to Europe then the Russians should be our best friends.

James Andrew Mills
Renfrewshire 

WHILE it was shocking to see the use of nerve agent sarin in Syria last week, what is more disturbing, and what the British public have a right to know, is the role that the UK Government played in the Assad regime’s development of its chemical weapons programme.

The UK Government itself admitted that in the 1980s the UK exported the chemicals necessary to make sarin to the Syrian regime. The UK also sold specialist equipment after the millennium which it now appears was diverted to the chemical weapons programme.

In July 2014, then foreign secretary William Hague told Parliament: “From the information we hold, we judge it likely that these chemical exports by UK companies were subsequently used by Syria in their programmes to produce nerve agents, including sarin.”

In the past, the UK has been far too lax over the sale of such chemicals. This improved with the implementation of EU-wide and international measures.

The UK should be ensuring that these standards aren’t compromised when pursuing Brexit trade deals. The UK Government must also conduct a full investigation to determine if the chemicals exported were used in these terrible attacks, and publish a list of other regimes and governments they have been sold to.

Alex Orr
Edinburgh

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Is scaring pensioners the Unionists’ best shot?

AS next month’s council elections loom and the activists get busy, what can we learn from the Unionist campaigners?

Ruth appears to be out and about scaring the elderly over pensions (again) and Scottish Labour (Johann Lamont) are scaring the same people with the possible loss of their bus passes! What a sad indictment of Unionist politics in Scotland. 

However, while we all know who and what the Tories are, what does Scottish Labour actually stand for politically these days? Gone are the socialist ideals and ideas for a fairer, more equal society because the SNP and Greens are actually delivering on that.

The pathetic remnants of a once respected ScotLab are now merely apologists for Tory policies who beat the anti-independence drum to death on the back of anything SNP baaad.

The sooner we get our independence, the sooner we can get these Unionist career politicians back to their day jobs!
Alfie Ward
Biggar