Saturday, March 19, 2022

Russia with impunity attacks civilian GPS over Baltic Sea

 The Finnish airline Finnair has reported a series of incidents related to GPS disruptions in the vicinity of the Kaliningrad Oblast and near the eastern border of Finland. Similar problems have been noted in the entire eastern Baltic region, but the Russians deny everything, feeling complete impunity.

Information about problems with the GPS system on the Baltic Sea appeared at the beginning of March 2022. They were provided not only by Finnish pilots, but also by the Lithuanian airlines, Transaviabaltika. As it turned out, the aircraft of this carrier could not land at the Finnish regional airport Savonlinna, which does not have alternative navigation equipment. Because of that, the plane flying from Tallinn on March 13 had to change its landing location and fly to Helsinki. This happened again on the next flight, so Helsinki-Savonlinna was suspended for a week.

As it turned out later, the disturbances of the GPS system affected not only Finland but also the territory of northern and north-eastern Poland and Lithuania, affecting the entire eastern Baltic Sea. It is significant that the anomalies recorded from 5 to 13 March were not so intense only around ​​the Kaliningrad Oblast. It is not surprising then that the suspicion fell right away on the Russians, who had already tried to disrupt the GPS system in northern Europe.

In the case of Finland, the disruption of the GPS system was seen as a kind of retaliation, and warning, for the meeting between Finnish President Saula Niinistö and US President Joe Biden. The meeting discussed, among other things, the possibility of increasing defense cooperation between Finland and NATO, which the authorities in the Kremlin certainly did not like. The matter has become serious, as disrupting the GPS system has a direct impact on flying safety and forces flight cancellations. In the case of Transaviabaltika, as many as 18 such flights were canceled, which resulted in specific losses for the carrier.

So far there is no way for a country like the Russian Federation to be held accountable for GPS disruptions like those experienced recently by Finland and Lithuania.