The submersible in which a fire recently claimed 14 Russian lives may be designed to damage underwater internet cables, the Russian media reports.
Vladimir Putin, president of the aggressor state, has described the incident as a “major loss”, but Moscow has been unwilling to divulge any details about the vessel or its purposes, which has aroused considerable suspicion.
Citing their own sources, the Russian news outlets RBC and Novaya Gazeta claim that the incident took place on the AS-12 nuclear deepwater station, which is believed to have been developed to damage underwater internet cables. According to Radio Liberty, the Russian Navy obtained the AS-12 in 2003. Since then, virtually nothing has been reported about its capabilities.
At the same time, western countries have repeatedly reported that Russian vessels are highly active around underwater fiber-optic cables cables.
The Russian Defense Ministry claims that the submersible was designed “to study the near-bottom space and the bottom of the World Ocean in the interests of the Navy”, and that it caught fire during bathymetric measurements. The Norwegian government has reported that the radiation levels in the region of the accident are normal. The Bell has remarked that the secrecy that the Russian government is trying to maintain around the submersible incident is comparable to the efforts made by the Soviet Union in 1986 to cover up the Chernobyl disaster.
Previously there were reports that US intelligence is concerned that Russian submarines and spy vessels are carrying out aggressive activity around important communication cables which provide nearly all of the world’s internet connectivity.