HomeWorldRussian submarines spotted on NATO's doorstep spark woes

Russian submarines spotted on NATO’s doorstep spark woes

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Russia has twice deployed attack submarines to conduct missions around the Irish Sea since President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to a report.

The activities of Russia’s Navy in international waters have drawn increased attention in recent months. Last month, Russia deployed its nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, warships, and other naval vessels to the Caribbean Sea for planned military drills.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (C) reviews naval troops as he attends the main naval parade marking the Russian Navy Day, in St. Petersburg on July 31, 2022. Russia has twice deployed attack submarines to conduct…


OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images

According to the non-profit Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), the Russian Navy commands one of the world’s largest submarine fleets with an estimated 58 vessels.

Russia first sent a Kilo-class submarine—a diesel-electric attack submarine which can fire Kalibr cruise missiles—toward the Irish Sea about 18 months ago. The second incident took place more recently, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing three people familiar with the matter.

Russian submarines were not known to have previously ventured toward the Irish Sea, which separates the islands of Ireland and Great Britain, the publication reported.

Moscow could be deploying its attack submarines in the area to gather intelligence on potential weaknesses in British and Irish Sea defenses. Russia could also be attempting to intimidate the U.K. over its ongoing support for Ukraine amid the war, the sources said.

Bloomberg’s sources said U.S. officials were aware of the matter, while British defense officials told the publication it doesn’t “comment on operations.” The Irish Defense Department declined to comment.

Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry and the Pentagon for comment by email.

While Ireland has not attempted to join the the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) due to its policy of military neutrality, the military alliance has said it is open to helping the country protect its undersea cables.

Approximately 75 percent of transatlantic cables in the northern hemisphere pass through or near Irish waters, with four cables connecting to Ireland, and 12 connecting Ireland and Britain, the Irish Examiner reported.

Mircea Geoană, NATO’s deputy secretary general, said in March 2023 that recent Russian naval exercises in Ireland’s exclusive economic zone “put the security of undersea cables connecting Ireland to North America, U.K., and Europe” into “sharp focus.”

“As an advanced knowledge-based economy, with thriving technology, pharmaceutical, biotech, and financial sectors, ensuring Ireland’s resilience will be critical in the years ahead,” Geoană added. “This is where, I believe, our partnership would be good to work.”

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