YOU highlight Vladimir Putin's interference in the UK's democracy (""PM Facing legal action over claims he failed to probe Kremlin interference" (The Herald, October 19). Mr Putin, however, must be feeling well pleased with himself. He leads an organisation that murders opponents, carries out chemical and radioactive attacks in other countries, and steals intellectual property from universities and other western companies. He appears to think that anything that furthers his country’s aims is acceptable from murder to full-scale cheating in drug testing and the alleged bribing of delegates to ensure the 2018 football world cup was held in Moscow.

He also interferes in elections in other countries to further his aims of weakening western democracies. Recent examples of this have been hacking and publicising Democratic politicians’ emails leading to the success of the Republican Party in the United States in 2016 when an incompetent president was elected. This has continued during the present US election with Facebook already taking down illegal sites associated with Russian operators. Mr Putin’s support for and the success of his and Cambridge Analytica’s actions leading to the UK leaving the EU has resulted the weakening of both. His also provided support for Scottish independence during the referendum in 2014 which, if successful, would have led to the weakening of both the UK and Scotland. The Russians do this by using algorithms based on the huge amount of information on each of us on the internet. Misinformation and gentle nudging over a period are quite sophisticated and many people’s views are subtly changed to reflect what Mr Putin wants. However, with continued subversive actions he may yet be successful in separating Scotland from the rest of the UK.

It saddens me that there are many in Scotland who seem to think no further than the short term and do not look up to see what is happening overseas. It is evident that Scotland will be poorer both in economic terms and in protecting its borders and intellectual property should it split from the rest of the UK. Where is the Scottish Porton Down or Scottish GCHQ, I wonder?

In addition to Russia, there is China to consider. It also breaks into internet sites, steals intellectual property, and publishes misinformation. The Chinese occupy islands which do not belong to them in the South China Sea and militarise them. They purchase property in Australia and Africa to further their aims of international might. They do these using businessmen as proxies since the Chinese government works to a long-term aim, but no one is fooled about who is really running the show.

We in Scotland must not sleepwalk into a situation where we have little protection when the east wind blows.

Colin Gunn, Glasgow G73.