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Politics / Lack of friendly ports or Cold War behaviour?

The track of the the Nikolay Chiker. Screenshot: marine traffic.com

EYEBROWS are being raised locally after a Russian tug has appeared in the waters to the east of Shetland.

Since Monday the 98-metre rescue tug Nikolay Chiker has been plying the waters stretching from 30 miles to east of Unst to 30 miles east of Bressay.

Enquiries to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency were referred to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) who responded by saying that normally they wouldn’t comment on such issues.

“We constantly observe our areas of UK responsibility and interest,” they said, however.

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said that given the lack of friendly ports for Russia, tugs are sometimes known for being out at sea to service other vessels.

He added: “It is widely understood that civilian tugs can perform military roles and there is a reasonable suspicion that this may be what is happening here.

“This behaviour is reminiscent of the Cold War and needs to be taken seriously.

“Even if only because of the development of the space port, Shetland is again going to be a strategically significant part of the UK.

“Of course, back in the Cold War days the Royal Navy would send ships to shadow this sort of thing.  We simply do not have the vessels to do that now.”

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