TechRussia suspected of causing widespread GPS disruptions across Europe, hints of Hybrid War looming

Russia suspected of causing widespread GPS disruptions across Europe, hints of Hybrid War looming

Murmansk-BN Electronic Warfare System
Murmansk-BN Electronic Warfare System
Images source: © Wikimedia
9:53 AM EST, January 7, 2024

Significant GPS signal disruptions were detected in northern Poland and the southern Baltic region in December of the previous year. The cause remains unknown, but many believe it could result from Russian activity. On New Year's Eve, similar disruptions were experienced in Finland and Estonia. The specialist service GPSJAM reported that these issues affected large areas, predominantly around the Gulf of Finland.

Jukka Savolainen, the Finnish Centre for Countering Hybrid Threats director, stated, "It is very likely that the disruptions originate from systems on the Russian side." In his view, these disruptions could be deliberate or an unintended consequence of Russian actions. Numerous military officials share this view, including those from Sweden.

Could Russia be behind the GPS system disruptions?

Currently, there is no confirmed information explicitly implicating Russia as the source of the disruptions. However, when considering the jamming systems Russia reportedly has, this scenario seems plausible. For instance, the Murmansk-BN electronic warfare system in the Kaliningrad region can potentially disrupt communication within approximately 3,107 to 4,970 miles, affecting warships, aircraft, and enemy headquarters.

The comprehensive Murmansk-BN system comprises eight KamAZ 53501 trucks, employing 16 telescopic antennas, each around 105 feet tall. Developed by the Russian Concern of Radio Electronic Technologies, it's been deployed in the Baltic Fleet's Electronic Warfare Center in Königsberg since 2015. In 2019, it was also brought into the Kaliningrad region and thus could potentially interfere with military equipment in Scandinavian, Baltic, and Eastern European countries.

It's unclear whether the recent GPS disruptions were caused by the use of Murmansk-BN, but many military officials believe this to be a likely scenario. Joakim Paasikivi, a military strategy lecturer at the Swedish Defense Academy, opined to YLE portal that this could be the start of a hybrid war Russia is planning. In his words, "this could be the beginning of an unpleasant escalation."

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