Britain warns of Russian threat to undersea communications cables


Russian warships in the Atlantic could become a serious threat to NATO without even firing a shot, by cutting underwater cables vital for global trade and communications, a top British defense official has said.

British defense officials have warned that Russian Federation, in addition to possibly Iran and China, pose an existential threat to the Western way of life by developing capabilities to target undersea communications cables that carry 97 percent of all digital traffic and $10 trillion in daily financial transactions.

"Because Russia in addition to new ships and submarines continues to flawless both unconventional capabilities and information warfare", the chief of defence staff said, in his annual lecture to the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall.

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The cables which crisscross the world's oceans and seas carry 95 percent of communications and over $10 trillion in daily transactions.

These cables are "essential" to modern life and the "digital economy", providing internet and communications links between separate countries and continents.

According to the report, published earlier this month, many cable systems are potentially at risk. At the height of the Cold War the practice of tapping those cables was an established area of operation for intelligence agencies.

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It called on the Government to address the security threat on the UK's undersea cables in its next Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The annexation of Crimea in 2014 was highlighted in the report, with it saying Russian Federation was "easily" able to cut all digital communications from the region. In 2015 officials told the New York Times they had noticed an increase in Russian ships sailing along some of these routes in waters from the North Sea to Southeast Asia.

Why are undersea cables important?

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Should we worry about undersea cables being cut?

Finding the rupture and fixing it becomes a very challenging task.