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These Russian submarines could attack the Internet itself

Russian President Vladimir Putin Visits SeveromorskRussian President Vladimir Putin Visits Severomorsk
SEVEROMORSK, RUSSIA - JULY 27: Russian nuclear submarine Yuri Dolgorukiy (NATO reporting name: SSBN "Borei", or "Dolgorukiy") is seen during the Navy Day Military parade July, 27, 2014 in Severomorsk. Putin is having a visit to Northern Fleet main naval base of Severomorsk. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)Photograph by Sasha Mordovets — Getty Images

Russian submarines and intelligence ships located near the physical undersea cables transmitting most of the world’s Internet communications are getting a little too close for comfort. U.S. officials are reportedly worried about an attack that could cut off the lines of instant communication among Western powers.

The New York Times reports American officials are concerned about the positioning of the Russian ships, fearing their location may indicate plans to cut fiber-optic Internet cables during a future conflict. The Times quoted multiple Naval commanders and U.S. intelligence officials who voiced concerns over what is seen to be ramped up Russian naval activity near the cables’ routes in areas between the North Sea and Northeast Asia, as well as in waters near the U.S.

Commander William Marks, a Navy spokesman, told the Times that “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 Times said that the concern among U.S. officials is that Russian ships could look to cut the cables in particularly hard to reach spots, where they would be difficult to repair. Another concern is that the Russians would attempt not to destroy the cables, but to tap into them in an effort to listen in on communications.