Russia could cut off internet to Nato countries: British military chief
Moscow: Russia could pose a major threat to the UK and other Nato nations by cutting underwater cables essential for international commerce and the internet, the chief of the British defence staff, Sir Stuart Peach, has warned.
Russian ships have been regularly spotted close to the Atlantic cables that carry communications between the US and Europe and elsewhere around the world.
Air Chief Marshall Peach, who in September was appointed chair of the Natomilitary committee, said Russia had continued to develop unconventional warfare. He added that threats such as those to underwater cables meant the UK and its allies had to match the Russian navy in terms of modernising its fleet.
"There is a new risk to our prosperity and way of life, to the cables that crisscross our sea beds, disruption to which through cable-cuts or destruction would immediately – and catastrophically – fracture both international trade and the internet," he said.
The warning came a fortnight after the centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange issued a report saying 97% of global communications and $10tn in daily financial transactions were transmitted through such cables. The report, written by Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, cited US intelligence officials speaking about Russian submarines "aggressively operating" near Atlantic cables. Sunak added that when Russia annexed Crimea in 2013, an early move was to cut the main cable connecting it to the rest of the world. Despite the warnings from Peach and Sunak, the Russian ships could just be engaged in tapping into the cables to intercept communication to gather intelligence – as the Americans and British have long done.