The cause of GPS disturbances over Finland and the Baltic countries may have been found. Several experts put the system responsible in Kaliningrad.
The disturbances, which have been described as occurring on a massive scale, have been recorded at least since December 18. The disturbances peaked around the Christmas holidays. GPS signal was disrupted also in Finland and Estonia around New Year's, Finnish paper Iltalehti reports.
The Polish Office of Electronic Communications initially suspected the weather. But John Wiseman, who manages GPS data site Gpsjam, pointed out that the scale of the disturbance has been unprecedented and guessed deliberate jamming efforts or military exercises might be the cause.
An anonymous OSINT investigator who uses the pseudonym Markus Jonsson now claims he has discovered the source of the disturbance. Jonsson looked at flights that had reported GPS issues. The search area is first mapped based on how far the disturbance extends and then measured in terms of intensity.
By combining flight data, the investigator managed to pinpoint two or three locations where the disturbances could have originated.
I found the location of the Baltic Jammer causing flights to lose position, again.— Markus Jonsson (@auonsson) January 4, 2024
Kaliningrad, Poland (or Denmark). Pick your suspect.
With a new, larger dataset and more refined method I have replicated my results from yesterday.
Data only from when jammer has been active. https://t.co/Nb8F35nCJj pic.twitter.com/qH6ikCKSOk
Experts blame Russia
Lt. Col. Joakim Paasikivi from the Swedish Defense University has come to the same conclusion based on open data.
He said in an interview to Swedish public broadcaster SVT that Russia has interfered with the Northern European GPS system before in order to protect Murmansk Oblast or disrupt NATO exercises.
"I believe it is part of Russian influence activity or so-called hybrid warfare, an attempt to maintain a situation just shy of a conflict. It could be Russia's way to sow insecurity and a show of strength," Paasikivi said.
SVT also points out that the electronic warfare unit of Russia's Black Sea Fleet said immediately before Christmas that it held a training exercise for over 100 troops in Kaliningrad.
Jukka Savolainen, network director of the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Finland, told Yle that he believes Russia is very likely behind the disturbances.
The GPS system is used for navigation and positioning. While system disruption are a source of headaches for aviation, they do not pose any direct threat. Planes use other positioning tools beside GPS, such as accelerometers and fixed points on the ground.
Editor: Mark Gerssimenko, Marcus Turovski