There’s a growing concern in the West that in the near future, Russia could potentially attack vital data pipelines, spreading chaos across the globe.
According to reports, Russia is currently mulling over the possibility of cutting giant undersea cables in an attempt to wreak major havoc on world’s economy and halt critical communications that Western governments have been relying upon heavily for the last few decades.
Intelligence officers say that quite recently, they have been observing increasing Russian activity in oceans across the planet, particularly along the routes of the cables. Just a month back, a Russian spy ship named Yantar was monitored off the East Coast of the United States. That area has a major internet cable which is positioned deep below the sea. Moreover, the fact that the Yantar is equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea subs, has raised further suspicions on the Russian agenda in international waters.
Russia inspecting vulnerabilities
It is common for undersea cables to be cut by accident, but most of these breaks usually happen near to the shore. Experts are concerned that Russians are now exploring vulnerabilities at much greater depths. The deeper the cable goes, the harder it becomes to find and repair it, and in order to fix these issues, specialist engineers will require weeks. In short, if anyone is able to cut off the deep sea cables, it will literally cripple the global communication infrastructure.
The U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet commander in the Pacific, Rear Admiral Frederick J. Roegge admits that he is worried about the recent Russian activities, and even though there is no evidence that Russian ships are cutting internet cables, worry is understandable given this is a new way to cripple countries and economies.
It is believed that cables carry data worth $10 trillion on a daily basis and in the near future, keeping these routes secure would become a huge headache for governments especially if any element is able to get their hands on technology that has the potential to cripple global economy and communication.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently adopted a very aggressive military strategy and is not going to rely completely on air and land units. Putin is aware of the fact that Moscow might not be able to match U.S. and the West in general on the conventional front which is why he is exploring other avenues that could give his country an edge over its opponents in the event of war.
Mixing cyber and kinetic warfare
Indeed, Russia has made a lot of progress in terms of developing a mix of cyber and kinetic warfare, and proved it during the war with Georgia where it totally crippled Georgian communication infrastructure.
In a similar fashion, Russia has been able to mainly shut out NATO drones that were sent to observe proceedings in Crimea a few months back. It is clear that Putin is not willing to make any concessions and is now equally focused on exploring the possibility of sabotaging vital communication lines.
Cmdr. Willian Marks, a Navy spokesman in Washington, admits that communication cables are being tampered with is a potential problem.
“It would be a concern to hear any country was tampering with communication cables; however, due to the classified nature of submarine operations, we do not discuss specifics.”
A senior European diplomat revealed to the Times that the level of activity by the Russian military is “comparable to what we saw in the Cold War”.
Another major concern for the Pentagon is that the Russians might not be looking for vulnerable locations of the undersea cables used for regular worldwide communication, but might also be trying to locate specific cables that the U.S. government relies upon in order to conduct military operations. For now, the locations remain classified, but the secrecy would be in jeopardy if the Russians up the stakes underseas.
According to Admiral Mark Ferguson, the proficiency and operational tempo of the Russian submarine force is increasing, citing remarks by Russian Navy chief, Adm. Viktor Chirkov who admitted that Russian navy’s patrols have risen to almost 50 percent over the past year.
Moreover, the emerging Russian military doctrine of hybrid warfare which is a perfect mixture of conventional forces, special operations and new technologies, are going to give Moscow an edge over the West and this new report about Russian motives to disrupt decision cycles is worrisome indeed.