The West is worried about Russian subs lurking around undersea cables, and the US is sanctioning companies helping them do it


Yasen class Russian submarine

Western officials are increasingly concerned about Russian sub activity.
Part of that concern is about Russian subs interfering with undersea cables that support telecommunications.
US sanctions announced Monday target Russian firms linked to undersea spying efforts.

Russia has been investing heavily in its submarine fleet over the past decade and a half, restocking its fleet with more sophisticated and more capable boats that are more active than at any time since the Cold War.

That activity has worried Western officials, who have particular concern for what those subs might be doing around the undersea cables that link the US, Europe, and countries around the world, carrying 95% of communications and over $10 trillion in daily transactions.

Now the US government is targeting that undersea capability by putting sanctions on Russian firms and individuals that work with the country’s powerful FSB, the security and intelligence agency sanctioned in 2016 for interfering in the US election that year.

The US is pursuing “an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a release. “The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB.”

The Treasury said the sanctions were in response to “malign and destabilizing cyber activities,” like 2017’s NotPetya cyberattack and cyber intrusions of the US energy grid, which could allow future attacks.

Among the firms sanctioned on Monday was Divetechnoservices, which, since 2007, “has procured a variety of underwater equipment and diving systems for Russian government agencies, to include the FSB,” the Treasury Department said.

“Further, in 2011, Divetechnoservices was awarded a contract to procure a submersible craft valued at $1.5 million for the FSB,” according to the release.

‘The 21st-century, underwater equivalent’

Undersea espionage is not new. In 1972, specially equipped US submarines tapped a Soviet communications line off Russia’s Pacific coast as part of Operation Ivy Bells, which remained secret until information about it was leaked to the Soviets in the early 1980s.

One of the subs that took part, the now retired USS Parche, is the most decorated ship in the Navy, though most of its missions remain secret. The Navy currently operates the USS Jimmy Carter, an advanced Seawolf-class sub that’s believed to be

Source:: Business Insider

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