The head of the British armed forces warns that Russian submarines threaten a crucial network of submarine cables that carry information around the world.
Admiral Mr. Tony Radakin, was appointed Chief of Defense Staff in October, said that the submarine cables that transmit Internet data are “the real information system of the world”.
Any attempt to damage them could be considered an “act of war”, he added.
Sir Tony – a former head of the Royal Navy – told The Times newspaper that there had been a “phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and submarine activity” over the past 20 years.
This meant that Moscow could “endanger and potentially exploit the true world information system, namely the submarine cables which go around the world”.
“This is where most of the world’s information and traffic goes,” he added. “Russia has developed the capacity to endanger these submarine cables and potentially to operate these submarine cables.”
The Royal Navy followed the activity of Russian submarines during this period.
A collision between a British Type 23 frigate, HMS Northumberland, and a Russian submarine sparked wider speculation about the extent of Russian cable mapping activity.
The collision, filmed in footage recently released by a Channel 5 documentary crew working on a television series called Warship: Life At Sea, occurred in December 2020.
Sir Tony also said in his interview that the UK should develop hypersonic missiles to keep pace other nations do the same.
The UK in a weak position
He said that because the UK does not have hypersonic weapons and does not have the long range capability that the Russians have, the UK is in a weaker position.
“We don’t have them and we have to have them,” he said.
Sir Tony also said he had provided ministers with Britain’s “military choices” if Russia tries to invade Ukraine, but did not go into details.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has said in the past that it would be “highly unlikely” for the UK to send troops in the event of an invasion, while The Times said cyber attacks were part of the retaliatory measures envisaged.
Discussions next week
The United States and NATO are expected to hold talks with Russia next week amid tensions over a Russian military build-up on the Ukrainian border.
Discussions come after Russia has presented a series of guarantees it expects from NATO.
Meanwhile, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance must prepare “for the possibility of diplomacy failing.”
Foreign Minister Liz Truss said any Russian incursion into Ukraine would be a “massive strategic mistake” it would be “expensive” in Moscow.