U.S. military intelligence officers are concerned about Russian submarines and spy ships operating nearby the undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications.
According to the New York Times, the military intelligence officers are worried that Russia might attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.
The intelligence officers believe that Russia could cause a lot of problems for the United States if it decided to cut the fiber-optic cables at some of the hardest to reach locations because it would halt the instant communications that the U.S. government and citizens have grown dependent on.
Currently, there is no evidence that Russia plans to cut the cables anytime soon. However, there is a growing wariness among senior American and allied military intelligence officials over the activity of Russian troops around the globe.
The Pentagon and U.S. spy agencies have not publicly discussed their assessments of Russia’s growing naval activities because the documents are highly classified. American officials are also being secretive about how they plan to monitor Russia’s activities and their plans for recovery if the cables are cut.
More than a dozen officials did confirm that the situation has become the source of significant attention in the Pentagon.
“I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,” said Rear Adm. Frederick J. Roegge, commander of the Navy’s submarine fleet in the Pacific. Roegge would not answer questions about possible Russian plans for cutting the cables.
In Washington, Navy spokesman Cmdr. William Marks said, “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.”
The intelligence officers and commanders have been more forthcoming in private. They said that they are currently monitoring Russia’s increased activity along the known routes of the cables.
Last month, Russian spy ship Yantar, which is equipped with two self-propelled deep-sea submersible craft, was spotted off the East Coast of the United States on its way to Cuba. The ship was constantly monitored by American spy satellites, ships, and planes.
“The level of activity is comparable to what we saw in the Cold War,” a senior European diplomat said.
Norway is also concerned about the recent Russian activity, and it has asked neighboring countries for aid in tracking Russian Submarines.
In an email to the New York Times, Adm. James Stavridis, formerly NATO’s top military commander, said, “This is yet another example of a highly assertive and aggressive regime seemingly reaching backwards for the tools of the Cold War, albeit with a high degree of technical improvement.”