The British chief of staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, has warned that Russia poses a growing threat to submarine communications cables and that damage to them could be considered a “cause of war”.
Radakin, who last November became the first Royal Navy officer in twenty years to head the kingdom’s armed forces, noted in an interview with the Sunday Times that there had been a “miraculous increase” in Russian submarine activity, not just submarines, and that it could hit vital communications cables.
“That’s where almost all the global information traffic goes,” he said. “Russia has increased its ability to threaten these cables and even exploit those cables.” When asked if he sees this as a possible pretext for war, he replied: “Potentially, yes.”
Over the weekend, it was revealed that in late 2020, the Royal Navy’s frigate was damaged when a Russian submarine hit its underwater sonar in the North Atlantic. The British ship followed the submarine for fear it would try to hit an underwater cable in the area and when it placed its sonar cable, the first collision between vessels from the two countries has occurred since the end of the Cold War.
Meanwhile, Spice Norway, which operates the northernmost submarine optical cable duo in the world, reported that on Friday morning there was a malfunction in an area where the seabed of the Greenland Sea moves from a height of 300 meters to 2,700 meters. It is still unclear what caused the malfunction and Spice Norway has announced that it will have to send a ship that lays submarine cables to repair the damage, however there is no disruption to communication. Norway’s Justice Minister Emily Inger Mahel has stated that her staff is monitoring the situation.
Spice Norway’s cables connect the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic to the mainland part of Norway. They provide broadband internet and serve Svalesat, the world’s largest ground station for satellite antennas.