Russian submarines threatening undersea internet cables, says UK Defence Chief

undersea internet cables
Photo by Marc-Antoine Déry on Unsplash

The man in charge of Britain’s armed forces is warning that Russian submarines are threatening the critical network of undersea internet cables that the world relies on for its information. Admiral Sir Tony Radakin has told The Times newspaper that the cables are “the world’s real information system” and any attempt to damage them could be considered an “act of war”.

Sir Tony has been in his role as Chief of Defence Staff since October and said, in his first interview since taking on the job, there had been a “phenomenal increase in Russian submarine and underwater activity” in the last 20 years.

It 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”. “That is where predominantly all the world’s information and traffic travels,” he added. “Russia has grown the capability to put at threat those undersea cables and potentially exploit those undersea cables.”


A collision between a British warship and a Russian submarine has parked wider speculation about the extent of Russian activity when mapping the undersea internet cables. The collision, filmed in newly released footage by a documentary crew from Channel 5 working on a television series called Warship: Life At Sea, occurred in December 2020.

Another point that Sir Tony made in his interview with The Times was that the UK needs to develop hypersonic missiles so that it can keep up with other nations that are already doing the same. “We haven’t (got them) and we must have,” he said. As well as the warning over the undersea internet cables, Sir Tony said he as provided ministers with Britain’s “military choices” if Russia were to invade Ukraine.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said in the past it would be “highly unlikely” the UK would send troops if an invasion takes place, while The Times said cyber attacks were among the retaliatory actions being considered. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said any incursion into Ukraine by Russia would be a “massive strategic mistake” that would “come at a severe cost” to Moscow.

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