Russia a ‘risk’ to undersea cables, defence chief warns

December 15, 2017 1:55 am Categorised in:
Fibre cablesImage copyright Science Photo Library

The UK’s most senior military officer has warned of a new threat posed by Russia to communications and internet cables that run under the sea.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the chief of the defence staff, said Britain and Nato needed to prioritise protecting the lines of communication.

He said it would be an “immediately and potentially catastrophic” hit to the economy if they were cut or disrupted.

The cables criss-cross the seabed, connecting up countries and continents.

Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, Sir Stuart said the vulnerability of undersea lines posed a “new risk to our way of life”.

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Media captionSir Stuart Peach: Russia poses a “new risk” to economy and ways of living.

“In response to the threat posed by the modernisation of the Russian navy, both nuclear and conventional submarines and ships, we along with our Atlantic allies have prioritised missions and tasks to protect the sea lines of communication,” he said.

“This sounds like a re-run of old missions, actually as I’m about to say, it is very, very important that we understand how important that mission is for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“Because Russia in addition to new ships and submarines continues to perfect both unconventional capabilities and information warfare.”

The UK and its allies needed to “match and understand Russian fleet modernisation”, he added.

“There is a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the seabeds,” he said.

“Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted, which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living.”

Rishi Sunak MP warned earlier this month that a successful attack on the UK’s network of undersea communications cables could deal a “crippling blow” to the country’s security and economy.