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A Russian "research" ship, thought to potentially be a spy ship, is being tracked off the coast of the UK amid fears of an attack on infrastructure vital to the World Wide Web.
The Royal Navy is keeping tabs on the vessel after it unexpectedly changed direction and prompted fears that it may be there as part of a plot to launch an attack on undersea cables.
The Russian government-owned ship, named the Akademik Boris Petrov, left its home port in Kaliningrad on Monday (October 17) and was set to sail through the English Channel and onwards to the site of a scientific expedition in the South Atlantic, the Sun reported.
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However today (October 21) it was reported that the ship had changed course and is now expected to sail past Scottish islands in the coming days after it slowed drastically while passing Norwegian oil fields in the North Sea.
According to navigation data, the ship is also positioned to pass through waters off the Faslane naval base – home to the UK's nuclear deterrent, the Trident submarines.
It will then pass over the northwest of Ireland, where critical infrastructure for a series of transatlantic cables are located.
According to The Week, the fibre-optic cables running between the States and Europe are the "backbone" of the World Wide Web we have grown accustomed to using every day – at least 95% of global communications travel through the cables while the rest travels through satellite.
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This isn't the first time Russia has been embroiled in a suspected attack on vital undersea infrastructure.
Just last month (September 26) it was discovered the Nordstream gas pipeline, in the Baltic Sea, had been blown up, cutting off Russian gas to the rest of Europe.
While the Kremlin strongly denied any involvement in it, it is believed Russia was behind the attack.
And there has since been speculation that the transatlantic fibre-optic cables would be the next target.
Fianna Fail MEP, Billy Kelleher, told the Irish Sun at the time: "All communications between the US and Europe goes through a series of cables which run very close to the coast of Ireland. What do you think Russian warships were doing in that area earlier this year?
"It’s likely they were doing a full-blown recce. And after they blew up the Nordstream pipeline we have to be aware that Putin is capable of anything."
Vladimir Putin's escalation of the war in Ukraine – and his threats against the West – have reached worrying new heights in recent weeks.
On September 21 the dictator announced his now infamous mobilisation of 300,000 Russian troops, civilians and even prisoners to the front lines of Ukraine, causing thousands of eligible conscripts to flee the country or to take other drastic measures, such as setting themselves on fire, to avoid being sent to fight.
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In the same breath, Putin issued what seemed to be a thinly-veiled nuclear threat to the West, stating he would stop at nothing to maintain the "integrity" of his nation.
He said: "If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we use all available means to protect our people. I'm not bluffing."
Just this week (October 19) the Russian despot declared martial law in several Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, meaning military control has been put in place there.
This comes after the dictator's illegitimate ballot where he claimed to have polled Ukrainians in four annexed regions on whether they wanted to become part of Russia, with the overwhelming majority allegedly voting in favour.
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