Ian Blackford has indicated that Vladimir Putin should not determine the timeline for an independence referendum to be held.
It comes after a former senior member of staff in the SNP said it is ‘unlikely’ such a vote will be held before the end of 2023.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said her intention is to hold another referendum by the midway point of this Holyrood term.
However, Kevin Pringle said it is “unlikely” there will be a fresh vote on the issue by the end of next year “given the hurdles to be overcome”.
Pringle, who was a special adviser to former first minister Alex Salmond and held key roles within the SNP and the Yes Scotland campaign, made the assertion in an article for the Sunday Times.
Speaking on BBC’s Scotland’s ‘The Sunday Show, Blackford outlined that his focus is on helping support those fleeing from the crisis in Ukraine.
But, the SNP’s Westminster leader pointed to the mandate for a referendum secured following last year’s election.
“We fought an election last year, which the SNP won, we now have an agreement with the Greens, there’s a majority for independence,” he said.
“Is anybody suggesting that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin should determine the timeline for an independence referendum in Scotland?”
He added: “The focus of my attention today is making sure I do what I can to support those that need our protection from Ukraine.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, warned against another vote on the issue being held.
“Any sensible politician knows that this is not the time to be pursuing constitutional division and pulling Scotland apart,” she said.
Nash also suggested that Blackford is “rowing back on his previous comments to appease a minority who want to continue the nationalist campaign to leave the UK”.