Defence chiefs have war-gamed a massive cyber-strike to black out Moscow if Vladimir Putin launches a military attack on the West, after concluding that the only other way of hitting back would be to use nuclear weapons.
Britain’s military is said to be exploring a host of alternative measures and “more options” that could constitute a significant blow to Russia’s defenses short of launching nuclear war. The Sunday Times continues:
Planning exercises on the threat posed by Russia have left officials “ashen-faced” at the speed with which confrontation with Moscow could escalate.
Whitehall officials have vowed to step up offensive cyber-capability, including the ability to “turn out the lights” in the Kremlin.
Apparently the non-conventional and cyber-weapons strike readiness are part of growing growing tit-for-tat actions and tensions after UK and US officials have accused the Kremlin of aggressive actions ranging from cyberattacks on Western targets to election interference, to the poising of a former spy on British soil.
But officials are concerned that they don’t have enough in the UK military arsenal for an adequate response that would halt and deter Russian aggression. One senior military source told The Sunday Times: “If they sank our aircraft carrier with a nuclear-tipped torpedo, what is our response? There’s nothing between sinking their submarine and dropping a nuclear weapon on northern Kamchatka.”
The source explained further: “This is why cyber is so important; you can go on the offensive and turn off the lights in Moscow to tell them that they are not doing the right things.”
This comes as British troops recently participated in their biggest military exercise in a decade, which involved six navy ships and over 5,000 soldiers in the Omani desert. The UK military says it’s increasingly preparing for irregular warfare situations and engagement with Russian forces such as witnessed in recent years in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
NATO is also said to be beefing up its cyber-weapons and security capabilities, something United States is soon expected to announce it will make major contributions to in response to an alleged uptick in Russian operations. US intelligence officials have feared that Russia may be planning major hacking attempts ahead of the November midterms.
Late last week Dutch and other European authorities alleged Russian intelligence conducted four high profile cyber attacks, including an attempt to spy on the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is the independent body responsible for investigating chemical attacks in Syria and in the UK.
Meanwhile Moscow for its part has dismissed what Kremlin officials have lately called “Western spy mania” while leveling its own accusations that the US, UK, and NATO are engaged in their own provocations that of necessity put Russia on the defensive.