The SNP’s Westminster chief suggested war in Ukraine should not derail his party’s plan to hold a second vote on independence next year.
Ian Blackford stopped short of confirming he still thinks the timetable for a referendum is viable.
But in a TV interview, he insisted the SNP and Greens have the numbers to push ahead in Holyrood.
And he appeared to downplay opposition concerns that conflict caused by Russian president Vladimir Putin should pause plans for a 2023 vote.
‘Majority for independence in parliament’
“Let’s remember, we fought an election last year, which the SNP won,” he told the BBC.
“We now have an agreement with the Greens. There’s a majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament.”
Asked if anyone still believes it’s possible on that timeline, he said: “Is anybody suggesting that Putin should determine the timeline for an independence referendum in Scotland?”
He wants to focus on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine but added that “doesn’t mean” work should halt on preparation for independence.
Mr Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, commented after Alex Salmond’s former chief adviser said a vote in 2023 is unlikely.
Kevin Pringle, writing in the Sunday Times, claimed: “It is unwise to make any definite predictions in such volatile times, but it seems reasonable to say out loud that an independence referendum is unlikely to take place by the end of next year, given the hurdles to be overcome and extensive preparations required.”
He added: “A referendum is a means to an end, nothing more. If the Scottish government pursues it within a tight 2023 timescale that people are uncomfortable with, even assuming it doesn’t happen then, the task of building support for independence itself may be undermined.”