The Russian Ambassador to Ireland has given fishermen "an absolute guarantee" that their industry will not be affected by military drills off the Irish coast.
Following talks on Thursday between fishing groups and Ambassador Yuri Filatov, a 'buffer zone' will be considered to protect Irish trawlers from the exercises - which will involve naval artillery and missiles.
CEO of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association, Brendan Byrne, says he was happy with the talks.
While he criticised the Irish Government for failing to act.
"The frankness of the ambassador, and indeed I have to say, the empathy that he had for the Irish fishing industry, certainly overwhelmed me.
"When you compare that to the lack of engagement and the failure on the part of the Government to engage with us at all, severe questions have to be asked in the time ahead as to what the Government were doing in terms of the Irish fishing industry".
On January 27 representatives of the @ISWFPO have visited the Embassy of #Russia in Ireland. During the conversation parties discussed in a constructive and positive way the issues pertaining to the upcoming naval drills of the Russian #Navy off the coast of Ireland. pic.twitter.com/z6Qg2rmIWt
— Russia in Ireland (@Rus_Emb_Ireland) January 27, 2022
He says a buffer zone is easy to establish if all parties agree to it.
"It's easy to operate a buffer zone if there's an understanding between both parties.
"Again, there's a vast area earmarked for this exercise, there's a vast area where we'd be traditionally fishing in.
"And when we now have an agreement of understanding, of coexistence.
"The technical issues and the technicalities of this can be worked out on a one-to-one - and I'm confident that there's clear sight of that."
And Patrick Murphy, from the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation, says both sides have agreed to 'coexist' in Irish waters.
"We're delighted that we were invited by the ambassador to meet with him, and to discuss our concerns.
"Those concerns were addressed, taken onboard and they're going to be brought back to Moscow.
"The word we're using is 'coexistence' - so nobody loses face here, nobody backs down.
"We got what we wanted, which is a safe working environment for our fisherman".
US Congressman Brendan Boyle has branded the military exercises, set for next month, as designed to "push the envelope and test the West".
The area is within Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), but not her territorial waters.
Congressman Boyle told Newstalk: "I remember my grandfather - who grew up in Easkey, Co Sligo - as a boy looking out for the German's, if they were coming during World War II.
"I thought those days were over - that anyone on the coast of Donegal or Kerry would now have to be watching for the Russians - it's completely shocking.
"It is again another way in which [Russian President] Vladimir Putin likes to push the envelope and test the West to see what our resolve will be like".
Reporting by: Mairéad Cleary