NewsRussian navy's increased Atlantic presence targets underwater cables

Russian navy's increased Atlantic presence targets underwater cables

Gen. Roman Polko comments on Russian activity in the Atlantic Ocean.
Gen. Roman Polko comments on Russian activity in the Atlantic Ocean.
Images source: © Getty Images, PAP | Albert Zawada
3:12 PM EST, March 1, 2024

Russian presence in the Atlantic increases. According to the Portuguese navy, since February 24, 2022, when the war in Ukraine began, 39 Russian warships have been spotted in the area, some of which are espionage vessels.

Joao Fonseca Ribeiro, a retired commander of the Portuguese navy, explained that the Russian fleet is monitoring the Atlantic Ocean floor. Their interest lies in the telecommunications cables laid across it. Experts suggest that Russia's intent could be to destabilize the region or threaten NATO countries' IT infrastructure.

Gen. Roman Polko on Russian naval activities

Major General Roman Polko perceives two aspects of the increased activity by the Russian navy in the Atlantic. The first is Russia's endeavor to assert itself as a significant player on the global stage.

“Russia seeks to project itself as a formidable empire influencing the world scenario. This revelation is crucial as it highlights that the issue extends beyond the eastern flank,” he explained in a discussion with o2.pl.

Russia has cultivated an image of a nation that flouts norms, engaging in provocative actions that could potentially lead to catastrophe. Such maneuvers are manifestations of its power display, he further added.

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Polko also alerts to the threat posed to underwater connections running along the Atlantic floor.

“The Russians have openly declared their knowledge of these vulnerabilities, specifically targeting critical infrastructures like underwater cables,” states Gen. Polko.

This ambition extends to waging warfare in space. By targeting satellites and terrestrial infrastructure, Russia poses a significant threat to global stability. Given its strategy of employing demographic tactics to destabilize the West, attacking critical infrastructure could be part of its reconnaissance mission, aiming to identify and exploit vulnerabilities, adds Gen. Polko.

The World's Nervous System

Similarly, to how maritime trade routes from the Far East to Europe are dubbed the world's bloodstream, the optical fibers on the Atlantic floor, linking the United States to Europe, are termed the world's nervous system.

Approximately 95 percent of international IT telecommunications traffic passes through these undersea cables. Any damage to them could lead to a global communication blackout with catastrophic economic implications.

The risk to underwater cables has been a topic of discussion for years, especially following the discovery of activities by the notorious ship Jantar in various global locations known for their underwater infrastructure.

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Russians describe it as a research vessel, yet its operations suggest otherwise. Allegedly conducting seabed "research," it's believed to deploy surveillance devices using unmanned vehicles, though direct evidence of wrongdoing remains elusive.

Previous incidents underscore the vulnerability of underwater infrastructure, including the damage to the Nord Stream gas pipeline in September 2022 and the severed telecommunications cables between Estonia and Sweden in October of the same year.

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