The leader of the UK’s armed forces warned that Russian submarine activity is threatening underwater cables that are crucial to communication systems around the world – and that cutting these cables would be an “act of war”.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin described the undersea cables as “the world’s real information system” explaining that they transmit internet data and that damaging them could declare war.
The former head of the Royal Navy, who was recently given the title ‘Sir Tony’ following his knighthood, said there had been a “phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and underwater activity” in the last 20 years.
He said that meant Moscow could “put at risk and potentially exploit the world’s real information system, which is undersea cables that go all around the world”.
He told the Times : “That is where predominantly all the world’s information and traffic travels. Russia has grown the capability to put at threat those undersea cables and potentially exploit those undersea cables.”
The Navy has been tracking Russian submarine activity, but Sir Tony also said the UK needed to develop hypersonic missiles to keep up with the military competition.
A collision between the HMS Northumberland and a Russian sub in December 2020 sparked speculation about cable-mapping activity.
The collision was filmed by a documentary crew from Channel 5 who were working on a television series called Warship: Life At Sea.
In his interview, Sir Tony highlighted Russia’s hypersonic and long-range missile capability as a threat and Britain’s comparative capabilities as a weakness. “We haven’t (got them) and we must have,” he said.
Sir Tony also said he had briefed ministers on Britain’s “military choices” if Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, but did not reveal any further information.
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