May 30, 2024

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Russia accused of jamming the Global Positioning System (GPS)

Russia accused of jamming the Global Positioning System (GPS)

When officials from the Baltic states are asked where the blame lies, they do not hesitate.

“The source of the interference is Russia,” Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna told the BBC.

“We have evidence that it is coming from Russia, and that Russia is violating all international agreements.”

Tsahkna said that the sources of interference are located near the Russian cities of St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad and Pskov.

Online investigators agree, saying GPS jammers were likely located midway between St Petersburg and Estonia and near Russia's Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad – where the RAF plane carrying Defense Secretary Grant Shapps was located. When its signal was jammed.

By jamming GPS signals, Russia is “violating our territory” and putting people and civilian aircraft at risk, Tsahkna said.

He added: “This is a violation of international agreements… and I am also sure that they know exactly what they are doing.”

The BBC has contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.

There have also been reports of maritime traffic in the Baltic Sea being affected by GPS interference.

Jamming is the most widespread form of such interference, but there have also been numerous cases of “spoofing”, when legitimate signals are replaced by fake signals, indicating a fake site.

Keir Giles, director of the Conflict Studies Centre, a British think tank, believes Russia is interfering with GPS for both offensive and defensive reasons.

On the one hand, he says, while Russia is testing its “abilities to completely paralyze Europe in a time of crisis,” it is also trying to protect itself from potential missile and drone attacks.

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“Ukraine has already found ways to circumvent Russia's GPS, using other navigation systems to carry out drone strikes deep into Russia. But of course this does not mean that Russia does not benefit from ensuring that GPS “It simply doesn't work.” Giles told the BBC.

The impact of GPS interference on Russian navigation is much less serious as it has its own navigation system called GLONASS.

Planes may have backup systems to overcome GPS jamming, but Dana Goward, president of the US-based Resilient Navigation and Timing Foundation, which works to protect and improve GPS communications, says interfering with Signals still pose serious risks because “all of our systems and society have been organized around precise GPS signals.”

“When we remove GPS, it is fairly clear that the efficiency and safety of the aviation system will decrease,” he added.

“People are having to go back to old procedures that they're not quite familiar with. There's going to be some damage, and we just hope it all stops before something bad happens.”