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Russian directors quit Western Isles spaceport consultancy firm

Early image showing North Uist spaceport proposal
Early image showing North Uist spaceport proposal

A consultancy firm involved in the consortium building a rocket-launching spaceport on the Outer Hebrides has parted ways with its Russian directors.

We reported last month that Western Isles Council had signalled it could order a “review” of its partnership with Commercial Space Technologies (CST) Ltd, depending on government advice relating to Russia.

The firm is registered in the UK but has an office in Moscow and long-standing connections with Russia.

Scottish Government ministers previously urged businesses to cut their ties to Russia amid international outrage at Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

It has now emerged that Moscow-based Nina Pestmal, one of four previously listed directors of CST, resigned from the position she had held since 1996 after the link was highlighted last month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/AP/Shutterstock (12875974a)

Information detailed on Companies House shows that Ms Pestmal also quit as director of an associated business, Commercial Space Technologies (Services) Ltd, having first been appointed in 1998.

Irene Silantieva, another Moscow-based Russian national, resigned as a director of the second firm at the same time as Ms Pestmal, on March 16.

Spaceport 1

CST, which did not respond to a request for comment, is involved in a consortium which is driving the Spaceport 1 project at North Uist.

It is working alongside the local authority, also known as Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), and defence firm QinetiQ.

The original plans attracted a flood of objections, but have since been scaled back.

Established in 1983, CST said it was based in the UK and described itself as a private company funded entirely from commercial activity.

It had an office in Moscow, as well as London, with a “native Russian speaking staff”.

The company’s website said it had a “friendly working relationship with all Russian launch providers”, and that it “successfully trades in high technology products to and from the Russian Federation”.

Road signs as you arrive on North Uist from Benbecula.

Last month, CST director Alan Webb said the company was seeking advice from the UK Government’s Department for International Trade in the wake of sanctions against Russia.

He added: “We are a private company funded entirely from commercial activity, with customers across various countries, including Ukraine.

‘Specialist advice’

“We provide specialist advice as part of the spaceport consortium and to UK Government departments on matters relating to the space sector and launch activity.”

Mr Webb said CST had never received payment from the Russian government, or any Russian entities.

“As an exclusively commercial company, all of our income has been through international (primarily Western) customers, some of whom we have brokered launch services or trade deals for in Russia,” he said.

Last month, a Western Isles Council spokesman said: “Commercial Space Technologies Ltd is a UK based company with its main office in London.

“Like thousands of other companies, they have offices in Moscow.

“They provide specialist advice as part of the Spaceport Consortium, and are a private company funded entirely from commercial activity, with customers across various countries including Ukraine.

“Any future partnership arrangements will be subject to review at the appropriate time and would reflect decisions from government.”

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