A Russian spy ship spotted off the west coast of Ireland is likely interested in undersea internet cables, according to security analyst Declan Power.
The 350ft vessel carries a crew of 60 and is currently being monitored by the Irish Defence Forces.
The ‘Yantar’ is reportedly operated by Russia’s Main Directorate of Underwater Research and is believed to be carrying extensive surveillance equipment.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Security and Defence Analyst Declan Power said she is capable of monitoring undersea internet cables.
“Based on the activities of vessels of that specificity and based on the fact there has been a certain amount of activity off the west coast where we have cables that carry internet traffic between Europe and the Atlantic, it is suspected the Russians are showing some undue attention to that area,” he said.
“This has been alleged before in other circles. As far as I am aware, I think the vessel is just outside territorial waters.”
He said there was a similar incident recently with a Panama-flagged merchant vessel.
“Now this vessel appears to be a flagged Russian vessel,” he said. “It is a naval vessel and it appears to conform to the specifics of a surveillance vessel as opposed to a full-on ship configured for military operations.
“So, the defence forces will observe and report, I would imagine, on this situation.”
He said it is essential that Ireland is able to maintain the integrity of its communications systems – on our own behalf as well as for the UK and Europe.
“What we don’t want to be seen as is a weak link in the armour of western Europe and that is probably why you have this probing going on.
“This is part of a series of probes going on in recent years both on sea and in the air and more than likely under the sea as well but we are not in as good a position to be able to monitor that in this State.
“So, one of the most important things is that we are showing ourselves to be on point watching for this but the only way you can properly contain this is by working in close partnership with other nations – other European nations and indeed our UK neighbours who would have better electronic surveillance facilities to help manage and contain this kind of thing.”
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