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Economy

20,000 Cables Under The Sea The Internet Needs To Survive

Our connected lives don't happen as if by magic. Nearly 99% of intercontinental traffic, such as Internet and telephone, is made possible by giant underwater cables buried deep on the ocean floor.

Aboard a submarine cable ship
Aboard a submarine cable ship
Romain Gueugneau

CALAIS — The Ile de Sein ship leaves the port of Calais this December day with precious cargo. No special escort accompanies the ship as it sets out into the channel. The boats traveling this route have an important mission: to foster communication by connecting people to the Internet. They travel the world to link continents via thousands of kilometers of telecommunications cables installed on the ocean floor.

Most people are unaware of how dependent our information society is on this subsea infrastructure. Nearly 99% of intercontinental traffic, such as Internet and telephone, passes through these cables.

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In The News

War in Ukraine, Day 92: Is Severodonetsk The Next Mariupol?

Russian troops are attempting to encircle Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk region, as Vladimir Putin looks to claim victory in a war that is not going Moscow's way. But will the toll be for civilians?

Inside a shelter in Severodonetsk.

Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle and Cameron Manley

Severodonetsk, the last key city remaining under Ukrainian control in the Luhansk area, is now the focal point of Russia’s war. In 2014, it had been recaptured from the pro-Russian separatists in a hard-fought battle by Ukrainian forces. Now, eight years later, Moscow is launching an all-out attack to try to take it back again.

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Alex Crawford, a Sky News correspondent in the region, says Russian forces have the means to conquer the city that in normal times has a population of circa 100,000 — and Moscow will be eager to cite it as the “victory”. But, Crawford wrote, “the path to victory comes – like the capture of the port city of Mariupol – strewn with the broken and battered bodies of the city's citizens.”

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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