Russian submarine drones pose a ‘catastrophic’ risk to Britain’s economy and way of life if they cut vital underwater cables, the UK’s head of military warned.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach believes vital communication cables ‘criss-cross the sea bed’ were vulnerable to underwater attack.
Russia could have the capability to tap or sever the cables which link UK internet and phone networks to the rest of the world.
MailOnline reported Sir Stuart confirmed the Navy was now prioritising missions ‘to protect the sea lines of communication’.
He said: ‘There’s a new risk to our way of life, which is the vulnerability of the cables that criss-cross the sea beds.
‘Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living.
‘Therefore we must continue to develop our maritime forces with our allies to match and understand Russian fleet modernisation.’
He added: ‘If we don’t change with the threats we face, we risk being overmatched.’
Theresa May last month lashed out at Russia claiming it was meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in a bid to ‘weaponise information’.
Sir Stuart made the remarks in his final annual speech before he moves to become Nato’s military committee chairman next year.
The Russian fleet is believed to include a Yantar-class spy ‘intelligence ship’ which carries two submarines capable of destroying cables or tapping them for information.
As an island nation the UM relies heavily on underwater communication cables and many are both poorly protected and publicly known.