EUROPEANS must work together if we are to be in a position to defend our shared values. That’s a simple statement, but one that takes on even more resonance after events over the past few days.

Donald Trump said he would “encourage” Russia to attack Nato allies if they did not meet their financial commitments. There was the farcical sight of Tucker Carlson “interviewing” Vladimir Putin – or rather, giving him an undeserved veil of credibility on his rewriting of European history. Meanwhile, Hungary continues to be the last man standing in delaying Sweden’s Nato ratification.

This week’s Munich Security Conference report aptly stated:

“As more and more states define their success relative to others, a vicious cycle of relative-gains thinking, prosperity losses, and growing geopolitical tensions threatens to unroll.

“The resulting lose-lose dynamics are already unfolding in many policy fields and engulfing various regions.”

In sum, the world is increasingly unstable. What is to be done?

Contrary to Trump’s assertions about Nato, the alliance remains a crucial part of European and North Atlantic security.

Almost all Nato countries have increased their expenditure on defence since 2014, with Putin’s renewed invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 prompting Germany’s Zeitenwende speech and Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s commitment to create a €100 billion re-armament fund.

READ MORE: What is Nato, how much does it cost and what do leaders think of it?

Indeed, only the US has sent more military aid to Ukraine than Germany since the renewed invasion two years ago. And as announced in December’s Nato meeting, the alliance is increasing its military budget by 12%.

In the European Union, progress on security co-operation has accelerated. Its Permanent Structured Co-operation (Pesco) was established in December 2017 and currently includes more than 68 projects covering training, land, maritime, air, cyber, joint enablers and space capabilities.

The European Peace Facility has seen its financial ceiling increased to assist with the supply of military and defence-related equipment, infrastructure and technical support to host countries. Furthermore, the €8bn European Defence Fund incentivises and supports collaborative, cross-border research and development in the area of defence.

Beyond armaments there is also the importance of civic resilience. This was something myself and colleagues such as Stewart McDonald highlighted in the SNP’s submission to the original Integrated Review where we highlighted the roles of the Danish Beredskabsstyrelsen (Emergency Management Agency) and the German Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk (Federal Agency for Technical Relief) in this area.

One can also look at the example provided by Finland’s model of Comprehensive Security of cross-governmental preparedness, where authorities, businesses, NGOs, and citizens are jointly responsible for safeguarding society’s vital functions. Particularly given Russia’s hostile activity in undermining our democracies, total defence encompasses all of us being able to spot the signs of disinformation as well as being prepared for emergencies.

Which brings us to the current situation in the UK and Scotland. Bafflingly, the UK seems intent on pursuing an Indo-Pacific tilt at the expense of its own security in the North Atlantic. Geography matters at the end of the day.

The House of Commons Defence Committee laid out the state of the UK’s readiness a few weeks ago. Not only has the Ministry of Defence become “less transparent over the past decade”, MPs said, there are also “multiple capability shortfalls within the UK Armed Forces” and “the increase in global instability has coincided with a period of decreasing recruitment and reduced industrial capacity, which requires sustained, long-term investment”.

All this is compounded by the fact the British Army is at its smallest size since Napoleonic times and is projected to shrink further. No wonder then that in the eyes of the US, the UK is no longer regarded as a top-level fighting force.

Scotland plays a key role in the security of the North Atlantic, being strategically located in the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap. With independence, we will be too strategic to go dark, which is why we remain resolutely committed towards an independent Scotland becoming a member of Nato.

Vital sea lines of communication as well as undersea cables which connect the world criss-cross Scotland’s maritime territory – we would take seriously the responsibility to protect them.

As the Arctic also opens up, so there is an increased risk of conflict and confrontation which would require extensive co-operation with allies to prevent escalation.

Joint membership of the EU and Nato will be the twin pillars of Scottish security, but we will also ensure we provide our fair share in contributing to Europe’s collective security.