By Jon Dougherty

A Russian submarine that caught fire this past week may have actually been sent on a mission to cut undersea Internet cables connecting the global economy, Futurism reports, citing open-source information from the Russian government and published reports.

According to the Russian government, 14 sailors were killed in the fire, CNBC added. However, days after the incident, Moscow still wasn’t talking about what kind of submarine was involved or whether it was a nuclear-powered vessel.

Futurism notes:

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

According to Russian media outlets RBC and Novaya Gazeta, anonymous sources claim the submarine was a Losharik — a class of sub that has been in operation since 2003, though the Kremlin’s defense ministry has never come out and declared its official purpose.

That said, U.S. and Western intelligence agencies have speculated about the sub’s use.

For example, for years they have warned that Russian subs have been surveying undersea cables, likely with an eye towards severing them in times of crisis. Doing so would cripple global commerce and communications.

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Intelligence agencies believe the Losharik was built primarily for that purpose.

Another possible reason for Russia’s silence: If the sub was nuclear-powered, Moscow would not want to draw attention to that.

That said, on Tuesday Norwegian authorities reported they had not detected any abnormal radiation in the area of the sub fire.

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However, because Russia itself has not released a similar statement, that’s a cause for serious concern, according to Russian news site The Bell.

“Nearly a day without information about the accident in a nuclear facility and the need to look out for Norwegian statements about the level of radiation should have given a shudder to those who remember the Chernobyl nuclear power station,” the site wrote about the fire, according to Reuters.

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