Finland has summoned Russian ambassador over allegations that the Russian military had jammed its GPS signals during a major NATO military maneuver in Norway earlier this month.
“We don’t have anything to hide here. Disruption is a serious matter which disturbs civil aviation. We will act towards Russia, we will discuss this and we expect answers,” said Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini.
The country, which is not a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), took part as an ally in a war game, dubbed Trident Juncture, close to the Russian border, in an area stretching from the Baltic Sea to Iceland.
The war games, labeled as the military alliance’s largest drill since the Cold War, which gathered some 31 countries, lasted for two weeks from 25 October.
During the exercise earlier this month, Finland’s air navigation services issued a warning for air traffic due to a large-scale GPS interruption in the north of the country.
The problem is not believed to have caused any accidents, but Finland’s state Air Navigation Services issued a warning to civilian air traffic over the matter.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, dismissed the allegation as “a trend to blame all mortal sins on Russia.”
“We know nothing about Russia’s possible involvement in those GPS failures,” he said on Monday.
Norway had also posted a similar warning in its own airspace, accusing Russia of disrupting the system.
A spokesperson for the Norwegian ministry of defense said the jamming occurred between October 16 and November 7.
“Norway has determined that Russia was responsible for jamming GPS signals in the Kola Peninsula during Exercise Trident Juncture,” NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu was quoted by CNN as saying on Wednesday.
The International Air Transport Association, which represents 290 airlines around the world, however, explained that such interference in GPS signals was not unusual during military drills.
“These are decisions taken by the military over which airlines have no control,” The Independent quoted a spokesperson as saying.
“Safety of passengers and crew is the number one priority of the airline industry and the safety of commercial airliners is not at risk from GPS jamming.”
This was an apparent reference to earlier warnings by Norway that “jamming of this sort is dangerous, disruptive and irresponsible.”
NATO’s many precision-guided weapons heavily rely on GPS and their alternative navigation tools are “far less accurate,” according to Justin Bronk, a researcher at an independent think tank on international defense and security, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).