NATO Monitors Suspected Russian Submarine Activity Near Ireland's Coast
Monday 10th, June 2024
InternationalIreland Report / Story
In the depths off Ireland's western coast, a high stakes game of maritime cat and mouse is unfolding. NATO allies have deployed sophisticated aircraft to monitor suspected Russian submarine activity, raising alarms over potential threats to crucial undersea infrastructure, including communication cables and gas pipelines.

French, British, and Norwegian armed forces have escalated surveillance operations, working in concert to track what is believed to be a Russian submarine lurking in international waters near the Emerald Isle. The French have dispatched a Bréguet 1150 Atlantic aircraft, while the UK and Norway have deployed Boeing Poseidon P-8 anti-submarine warfare planes, renowned for their advanced tracking capabilities.

Keir Giles, a Russia analyst at Chatham House, underscored the gravity of the situation, stating, "Watching submarines – that’s what these aircraft are used for. The fact that the planes take turns watching what is happening shows that each country is unable to do this work on its own. The tracking effort shows how serious they are about what’s happening. It also shows that Ireland is unable to defend itself". The involvement of these three nations highlights their vigilance and Ireland’s limitations in maritime defence.

Ireland's strategic geographic location comes into sharp focus in light of these events. The nation sits at a critical juncture of a dense network of undersea cables carrying approximately 97% of global communications, including internet traffic, between Europe and North America. With over 550 cables spanning 2.25 million kilometres, the security of this infrastructure is of paramount concern not only to Ireland but to the world at large.

These concerns are not without precedent. In August 2021, the Russian intelligence ship Yantar was observed near Irish waters, close to the AEConnect-1 submarine cable and the route of the planned Celtic Norse cable.

The current activities are set against a backdrop of European intelligence warnings about Russia’s preparations for potential acts of sabotage within the EU, just ahead of the European elections. This context lends the ongoing NATO surveillance operation an air of proactive deterrence, aiming to safeguard these critical conduits from any disruptions that could have far reaching implications.
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