15/12/2017 09:43 GMT | Updated 15/12/2017 10:52 GMT

Britain Says West Must Defend Undersea Cables From Russian Attack

'A new risk to our way of life.'

Britain and its NATO allies must defend deep sea cables against a potentially catastrophic attack by the Russian navy that could disrupt trillions of dollars in financial transactions, the head of Britain’s armed forces warned.

The cables which crisscross the world’s oceans and seas carry 95 percent of communications and over $10 trillion in daily transactions.

“There is a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the seabeds,” the BBC quoted Stuart Peach, chief of the defence staff, as saying.

PA Wire/PA Images
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stuart Peach says the vulnerability of the cables leaves countries at risk 

Peach said the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s modernisation of the once mighty Soviet navy now posed a serious threat to Western communications.

“Russia in addition to new ships and submarines continues to perfect both unconventional capabilities and information warfare,” Peach said.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed Western concerns about its renewed assertiveness as Cold War hysteria, though Kremlin supporters praise Putin at home for putting restoring Russia’s clout after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 2014 it emerged Google had been forced to reinforce its network of undersea cables due to shark attacks. Sharks are apparently drawn to the cables, though it is not known why. 

The search giant said 100km of its cables were redesigned with a material close to that used in bulletproof vests.