(Express)– VLADIMIR Putin’s secret fleet of deep sea drones could paralyse the $10trillion-a-day global economy and bring down the internet by sabotaging vital underwater communications cables, British military chiefs have warned.
Financial transactions worth vast sums of money are transmitted over the wires everyday and the network also carries most of the communications between the US and Europe and elsewhere around the world.
But Russian ships are regularly spotted close to the Atlantic cables as Mr Putin’s generals continue to explore new ways of waging unconventional war against the West.
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach, chief of the British defence staff who in September was appointed chair of the NATO military committee, highlighted the threat in a stark security warning.
He said: “There is a new risk to our prosperity and way of life, to the cables that crisscross our sea beds, disruption to which through cable-cuts or destruction would immediately – and catastrophically – fracture both international trade and the internet.”
His warning came after the Policy Exchange think tank issued a report saying 97 per cent of global communications and $10 TRILLION in daily financial transactions were transmitted through such cables.
The report, written by Conservative MP Rishi Sunak, cited US intelligence officials speaking about Russian submarines “aggressively operating” near Atlantic cables.
Mr Sunak said one of the first things Russia did when it annexed Crimea in 2013 was cut the main cable connecting it to the rest of the world.
Sir Stuart used the annual chief of defence staff lecture at the Royal United Services Institute in London to highlight the continually rising levels of risk to NATO from Russia.
He said: “In response to the threat posed by the modernisation of the Russian navy – both nuclear and conventional submarines and ships – the UK and other Atlantic NATO allies have had to prioritise missions and tasks in order to protect the sea lines of communication.
“In addition to new ships and submarines, Russia continues to perfect unconventional capabilities and information warfare. Therefore, we must continue to develop our maritime forces with our allies to match Russian fleet modernisation.”
The UK, the US and other NATO countries have been warning of the danger posed by Russia since the Crimea invasion as Vladimir Putin has steadily sought to reassert his country’s position on the world stage.
As well as conventional military involvement in Syria, Russia has been accused of engaging in hybrid warfare, including cyberwarfare, aimed at destabilising NATO.