NATO Warns: Undersea Pipelines, Cables Could Now Be Targeted

David Cattler, NATO’s assistant secretary general for intelligence and security, warned that Russia could now be targeting undersea pipelines and cables.

There is a “significant risk” Russian could target critical infrastructure in Europe or North America, including gas pipelines and internet cables, as part of its confrontation with the West over Ukraine, a senior NATO intelligence official warned.

David Cattler, NATO’s assistant secretary general for intelligence and security, told reporters Russia was “actively mapping” the infrastructure of Ukraine’s allies both on land and on the seabed.

Moscow’s military and civilian intelligence services had “considerable resources” that Vladimir Putin could deploy for surveillance of infrastructure, “including the use of civilian ships and so-called spy ships,” Cattler added.

The threat posed to undersea gas pipelines that supply Europe was starkly exposed by the sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic last September. Cattler said that undersea cables that carry 95 percent of internet traffic were also potentially at risk.

“We see a significant risk that critical infrastructure in Europe and potentially North America could be targeted by Russia as part of its war on Ukraine,” Cattler said. 

“The Russians are more active than we’ve seen them in years in this domain,” Cattler said. “Their patrols in the Atlantic and throughout the Atlantic are most of the time at a higher level than we’ve seen in recent years.” Russian vessels were also “taking more risk” in the Baltic and North Seas, he added.

In the wake of the Nord Stream blasts, which are the subject of investigations in three different countries, NATO established a new “cell” at its Brussels headquarters to coordinate efforts to protect undersea infrastructure. None of the investigations have yet concluded who was responsible for the attack, but initial suspicion in Western governments fell on Russia. Danish authorities last week confirmed a sighting of a submarine-carrying Russian Navy vessel near the pipelines four days before the blasts last September.

According to Anil Sooklal, South Africa’s ambassador to the group, 19 nations, including five Arab states and Iran, are ready to join BRICS.

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