back to article Russia could chop vital undersea web cables, warns Brit military chief

The head of the British Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, has warned that Russia could cut off the UK by severing undersea communications cables. In a speech made to military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute last night, the air marshal said: "There's a new risk to our way of life, which is the …

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Forgive me if I've misunderstood something here, but why would we (the UK) be the most at risk if a cable is cut in the Pacific? Surely that would affect Japan, Austrailia, America etc the most? Surely we should be more concerned with Atlantic cables?

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The speech is largely in response to increased Russian troll-sub presence in the North Atlantic. I've no idea why they've shown a picture of the Pacific cable, tbh.

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Europe - Far East communications transit North America

Due to non-coincident busy hours, Europe to Far East cables via Eurasia are not needed. Instead, the Atlantic and Pacific cables are connected via North America taking advantage of the fact that the three continental pairs do not generate peak traffic at the same times.

(It also makes it easier for Five Eyes to keep tabs on things.)

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Keep feeding the terrorists with all the info they need. Why do we in the West keep on blabbing about everything that would do the West damage, inspiring generations of terrorists.

Does this not appear to anyone as being particularly stupid????

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

No, they could just send a person down with a laser cutter. Any more smart ideas people want to give away?

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Why do we in the West keep on blabbing...particularly stupid?

No Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

Unless someone "arranges" a fire when a truck on the shuttle service suddenly explodes. Never happened before...oh wait, yes it has. Twice :-(

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

Are you absolutely sure no specialised nuclear depth charge could implode and flood the Chunnel? Remember in WWII the UK and America developed a number of specialised busting munitions like the bouncing bomb, bunker busters and the bombs used to sink the Tirpitz in its Norwegian Fjord. Some sort of piercing driven vertical torpedo would seem like the start of a tunnel buster.

I know the UK spooks had the idea of mining it from within with a nuke but that was a practical ease of use operation designed to frustrate a very hypothetical Russian invasion of Western Europe. In reality the Soviets had their hands full with their Warsaw Pact buffer nations, were happy to have a buffer zone and warmongering Germany partitioned and didn't have any particular desire to invade Western Europe and administer it.

Rather they hoped that the workers here would rise up and form Socialist paradises on their own.

It was also true that by far the biggest concentration of Soviet arms was stationed on the border with Red China with whom they did NOT see eye to eye. There is now a lot of trade flowing over that border and it is less militarised than hitherto.

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

If we're at "specialised nuclear depth charge" level then comms cables are waaaaaaaay down the list of concerns.

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Pirate

Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

That gets you to Europe, but not the rest of the world. If you want to get to south asia, you have to go through Russia or lay a cable across the Bosphorus which is vulnerable to those nasty submarines. Australia, Iceland, Ireland, and the Americas can only be accessed by submarine bait.

Maybe we need to dig some REALLY long tunnels to put the cables in.

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Because it's good FUD fodder

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

You're right I have been saying for years that we should build a tunnel under the Atlantic in addition to running cables, we could use a vacuum and send capsules down it at high speed and call it hyper ....something.

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Nuclear depth charge?

If you want to collapse the chunnel, wouldn't it be easier to smuggle an "ordinary" suitcase nuke onto one of the trains and blow it up from the inside?

I don't know how carefully cargo trains crossing are checked, but conventional explosives could probably do the job if you could bring a few hundred pounds of Semtex in some cargo... This would have the bonus of offering the possibility of making it look like terrorists, or Iran or North Korea, so the real perpetrator could plead innocence.

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Is a troll-sub the sort of submarine you would expect to be manned by Katie Hopkins?

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Black Helicopters

Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

No, better to use a shark with head-mounted laser!

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

For the Boshporus, the main threat is still earthquakes...

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Meh

Re: Keep feeding the terrorists

Keep feeding the terrorists with all the info they need. Why do we in the West keep on blabbing about everything that would do the West damage, inspiring generations of terrorists.

Does this not appear to anyone as being particularly stupid????

You mean does the first paragraph of your comment appear to be particularly stupid? Definitely.

I could try to explain to you that as an innocent bystander, you are more likely to be killed by a bee than a religious or politically motivated murderer (if that is what you mean by a "terrorist"), or I could talk about the physiological phenomenon of social amplification of risk which makes negligible risks appear important just because people talk about them, and the related concept of the availability heuristic in decision making which helps drives it, but I suspect there is very little point in trying to drag you from the world as fed to you by tabloid newspapers and Donald Trump into reality.

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

just get the french to strike. that will cut all comms through france. threaten to take away paid lunch breaks, that should paralyse most of the country.

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I absolutely agree that too much information is put out on TV. During the war and after you were told to keep it under your hat.

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I think they want the Russians to cut off Twitter and Facebook so they can't re-elect Trump. As we know Russia caused Brexit and Trump.

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Oceania has always/never been at WAR with Eurasia/Eastasia

Earth's ruling Demonic Warlords have stage set, directed, prolongedcand profited from every war.

"All Wars Are Bankers Wars" by Michael Rivero on YouTube

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Re: Oceania has always/never been at WAR with Eurasia/Eastasia

It's only really the latter half of the 20th Century that beancounters have had any "real" power - bankers might hold the purse-strings but a strong enough force could come along and pry those purses from the cold, dead fingers of the bankers (why else do you really think that the Eurocrats are so determined to reduce national Armed Forces below effective strength while creating an "internal security force" that can overpower any individual member state's defences?).

Unless you really believe that all wars since history began were fought because of a few money-grubbing merchants rather than because Religious Group A and Religious Group B disagree over which deity was/is stronger or whether it is Followers or Family who inherit control when the leader dies, or because one highly charismatic man manages to convince a large number of others that one hair or eye colour is inherently superior to all others then blaming the beancounters - however tempting - is to ignore what happens when nobody tells the playground bully to wind his neck in and play nice with others.

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Re: Stay calm and lay more cable...

Brexit already threatens to cut all communications with the EU so the chunnel is not an option.

Perhaps Trump will pay for a chunnel from London to Washington, right after he pays for the wall along the Mexican border.

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I&I

"Hurrah!"

Harry Harrison got there first

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Sure, but are "we" at war with the Russians? No. No we are not, no matter what CNN tries to tell you. Problem - Reaction - Solution. "The most effective way to beat the Opposition, is to lead it ourselves" - Lenin.

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Re: Nuclear depth charge?

isnt brexit supposed to do this?

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"Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

Yes. Problematic access to cat videos, grumble sites, modest inconvenience for the leeches of the city, It wouldn't be the end of my world.

Perhaps as head of the UK's armed services, Sir Stuart should be more concerned with the vast conventional capability gaps in all three services, and the squandersome and repetitive incompetence of the MoD in all matters of procurement?

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Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

Oh noes, I can't has cheeseburger !

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Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

"Yes. Problematic access to cat videos, grumble sites, modest inconvenience for the leeches of the city, It wouldn't be the end of my world"

Unless you keep your money under the bed and not in a bank and you have an allotment, the severing of these cables would most certainly affect you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

@Ben1892

You mean 'haz', not 'has' :-)

A/C (to avoid the anti-grammar Nazis).

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Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

Unless you keep your money under the bed and not in a bank and you have an allotment, the severing of these cables would most certainly affect you.

Still wouldn't be the end of my world. If traders on opposite sides of the Atlantic are unable to communicate, the trades don't happen, the assets don't evaporate, the liabilities don't go away, a few option traders get burned. Big hairy deal.

Remember when 9/11 paralysed Western air traffic for the better part of a week? Or the same of an Icelandic volcano that most of us can't pronounce? And yet, despite the VITAL, VITAL IMPORTANCE of all those business class movers and shakers unable to move, no material impact on business at all. It's the same with transatlantic cables - somebody will certainly be inconvenienced, I can't see any properly run bank having any existential risk, and even food trade wouldn't be unduly affected.

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Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

"Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

Yes, this means that the traffic goes the backup route around the UK into the North Sea landing in Europe north of Rotterdam (if we assume the optical level backup of the same links). As a result UK can no longer snoop on them and we have to ask the Dutch for a favour. Oh my god the world just ended.

To put it bluntly, if the hostilities reach a point where cables will be cut physically there will be P800 Onix and Kalibr going one way, Tomahawks the other shortly followed by nuclear tipped Khs Radugas and AG-86M exchanges and culminating with a Bulava vs Minuteman handshake.

Simply, the navy and the military need more toys. The threat of Russia doing this does not exist. At the point where they do it, undersea cables will be the least of our worries. There will be no traffic on them anyway with the EMP knocking out all Internet exchanges and transmission huts on the cable routes.

Now, there is a very clear threat of fringe groups, terrorists, self-declared states led by bearded lunatics, etc. That is different - it is the threat of them hijacking two trawlers or just buying them on the cheap (last time I checked - under 20 grand a piece for a couple of decommissioned ones) and having an excursion around Cornwall and around the Dutch coast north of Hook of Holland on the same day. All they need is a couple of AK47s on board - the only thing the UK coast guard has nowdays are inflatables. Not sure what the Dutch have (probably nothing much better either).

That is different though - you cannot get any cool toys to deal with this. Nothing like the toys BAE will concoct to deal with an imaginary Russian threat in mid-atlantic (*).

(*)Do not even get me started about ex-Generals getting consluttant positions in companies like BAE after they have "served their country". Everywhere - Russia too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

RE: "You mean 'haz', not 'has' :-)"

You can't dictate how a cat spells things.

If I try to force my cat to spell has with a z she shoves my coffee off the desk.

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OMG !! Is it time to locally cache all the cat vid's on web

Should I set a web crawler and cache enough cat vid's locally to last me for life ?

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Facepalm

Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

"Oh noes, I can't has cheeseburger !"

You know what's most pathetic? The fact that I, a 45 year old bloke, gets the reference. It's Friday evening, time for a few swift ones in the pub on the way home.

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Coat

Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

I'm not that far off you in age and the same gender, but I'm now already two beers down to restore the clever/stupid balance :)

/goes off to learn spellings of cat-themed memes

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Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

"The threat of Russia doing this does not exist."

Not deliberately, of course. But there could be the occasional careless anchoring -oops, so sorry.

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Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

"You know what's most pathetic? The fact that I, a 45 year old bloke, gets the reference. It's Friday evening, time for a few swift ones in the pub on the way home."

Your nickname on this forum is FuzzyWuzzys. Nobody expects you to have grown up. ;)

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Re: "Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted?"

In the early hours of 5 August 1914, only a few hours after war was declared, Britain carried out something that seemed to be minor, but was actually vital. A British cable ship severed five German overseas underwater cables, which passed from Emden through the English Channel to Vigo, Tenerife, the Azores and the USA

This cut direct German communications to outside Europe, most significantly to the United States. The British could now intercept German signals to their embassies. They were sent in code, but British codebreakers were eventually able to read them.

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The comments section for this story on the BBC website is frankly hilarious. It's descended into a flamewar between a Putinbot infestation on the one hand, and a bunch of old-school Daily Mail reading retired Colonel types on the other.

My favourite comment so far has to be "Do you really expect us to believe that Sir Peach would lie to the RUSI?", as if the very suggestion of a British soldier exaggerating a threat to win more funding is a completely unthinkable smear on the reputation of an officer and a gentlemen.

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Happy

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable comment to me! I get all my political and strategic information from SPEAK YOUR BRAINZ...

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Trollface

My favourite comment so far has to be "Do you really expect us to believe that Sir Peach would lie to the RUSI?"

Please tell me that descended into a sub-thread flame war about correctly styling a knight of the realm.

I don't suppose you could have another Speak Your Branes these days

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Anonymous Coward

The comments on the BBC are always hilarious and scary at the same time, I present another classic from the same story,

"Are the military 100% certain the cables still there? I wouldn't mind betting that the wonderful caravan travellers or EU horde from Dracula's homeland haven't lifted and stripped them of metals and weighed them in for scrap already"

Shine a fucking light, where do these people come from?

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BBC website comments sections are a very powerful looney-magnet.

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Big Brother

Typical BBC double standards

Werdsmith wrote: "BBC website comments sections are a very powerful looney-magnet."

True - but not all of them are visitors. Following a slightly dubious accident during a Formula 1 Grand Prix, I posted a comment asking if some of the posters on the BBC sports page would make their (nasty, rude and sometimes borderline psychopathic) comments if face-to-face with the driver but apparently the BBC Moderators consider it acceptable to make threats against sportsmen *and their families* but not to ask "would you say that if you were in the same room?"...

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Anonymous Coward

So the real answer is.....

...to spend more money on infrastructure.

Lets face it, you could have a 1000 more warships and still not stop this...all it takes is a trawler.

Yet investing in a 1000 more cables would make it much harder to have a major impact.

But I guess we like the £100,000 missile to blow up a tent idea.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So the real answer is.....

Promising theory but they would probably all still come ashore in Cornwall at Sennen Cove or Porthcurno beach and meet at Skewjack farm where CESG intercepts them.

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