HIS regime has long hammered separatists within his own borders.

But now Vladimir Putin's Russia has held out the hand of friendship to independence movements overseas, including the SNP.

A pro-Kremlin group has announced a separatist summit in Moscow this autumn with top billing for as yet unspecified visitors from Scotland, Catalonia and even Texas.

Its aim: to equate last year's independence referendum and the long-standing national movements in western Europe and elsewhere with unrecognised breakaway republics in what it calls "New Russia" - and what the rest of world calls south-eastern Ukraine.

A headline in Pravda on Thursday set out the stall for the event.

"Texas, New Russia, Catalonia and Scotland will fight for their independence from Moscow," it said.

The summit is being hosted by group called the Anti-Globalisation Movement of Russia. Moscow media said talks had begun to bring the SNP to the Russian capital for the event.

The Herald understands from senior nationalist sources that this is not the case and that any overture would be rejected.

An official party spokesman said: "We've had no contact on this and wouldn't have any interest if we had."

The SNP has always distanced itself from rebels in eastern Ukraine - which are rather more "unionist" than "separatist" in their politics given that many of them seek the re-integration of their territories in to Russia.

The Globalisation Movement of Russia insisted that it had been in talks with Scots but declined to say who would represent this country at its summit, to be held in Moscow in September.

The group's president, Aleksandr Ionov, told The Herald: "We are conducting negotiations with our Scottish partners from three organisations. I can say that the party [SNP] is one of them.

"We have reached a preliminary agreement. As soon as the Scots form a delegation, this information would appear on our website. We are not providing any information as yet.

"The Anti-Globalisation Movement has been working with colleagues from Scotland for some years."

Mr Ionov stressed that his organisation was non-governmental but confirmed that it "co-operates closely with the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples' Republics".

These are the two breakaway but unrecognised statelets in south-eastern Ukraine.

Figures from these two entities will be in Moscow for the summit with reports suggesting they would meet Scots, Catalans, the Polisario Front of Western Sahara and even the tiny Texan and Hawaiian separatist movements.

Mr Ionov, whose social media profile includes references to Russia's need to arm itself to ensure it "territorial integrity", told Moscow daily Izvestia that the summit aimed to put together an appeal to the United Nations.

His movement broadly reflects Kremlin concern of a "unipolar" world led by US capital.

Its website, dripping with Putinist language, describes the movement as a "socio-political movement whose activities are aimed against certain aspects of the globalization process in its present form, in particular against the global dominance of transnational corporations and supranational trade and financial institutions".

Mr Ionov has supported groups representing indigenous ethnic rights in Canada and the US and black Americans in the southern states, as well as the rebels of "New Russia".

It is not uncommon for pro-Kremlin figures to back anti-establishment causes in the west.

Russia media and politicians were initially highly antagonistic to the prospects of Scottish independence.

State-supported television, however, has recently adopted a different tone with Moscow channels, including the English-language RT, giving air time to the conspiracy theory that last year's referendum was rigged.

However, many Russian commentators are still far from comfortable with foreign separatism, fearing contagion from outside their borders.

Sergei Ordzhonikidze, chairman of the Russian Social Council for International Co-operation and Public Diplomacy, said he opposed Mr Ionov's summit.

Speaking to Moscow daily Izvestia, he said: "We should not encourage such events given the mult-national nature of our country. Some Russian regions may take advantage of the example of separatists from other countries."