Billions of people use the GPS satellite system every day to find their way to a location or to return home. However, these signals are disrupted in Russian cities. This breakdown in the navigation system has continued since Ukraine has launched long-range drones over Russian cities.
Various data analyses have revealed that several cities in Russia have been facing widespread GPS disruption in recent weeks. This follows the drone attack that Ukraine launched on Russian soil. One of the ways in which Vladimir Putin’s government has tried to stop this advance is by cutting the signal. For experts, this is the only possible measure to halt the advance of these devices, which depend on satellite navigation for their navigation.
GPS jamming, Erik Kannike explained, has “expanded on a scale not seen before.” The program manager of Estonian defense intelligence firm SensusQ has been monitoring the situation in Eastern Europe:
“What we are experiencing now, for the last week or so, are GPS jamming bubbles covering hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers around tactical cities.”
GPS signal problems
The problems with this monitoring system were first detected by GPSJam. This system uses aircraft data to track problems with the satellite navigation system. The website recorded increasing disruptions in the Russian cities of Saratov, Volgograd and Penza. This situation has been occurring since the beginning of December. We are talking about cities in western Russia and within hundreds of kilometers of the Ukrainian border.
The interference recorded by GPSJam was mostly around Moscow. There, the Kremlin has been manipulating GPS connections for years. Since December 11, more and more areas of the country have experienced GPS signal interruptions. In addition, data collected by wireless data analytics company Aurora Insight is added. It measured an increase in GPS signal levels, which could be linked to these possible signal transfers in Russian cities.
Technology in the escalation of violence
After Russian forces entered Ukraine in February of this year, no GPS modifications or interferences were detected. In recent months, some signal drops have been recorded both in Russia and in areas close to Belarus. The company’s work also unveiled some disturbances in GPS signals on the Russian border with Finland. Jamming involves overriding radio signals so that devices do not function as intended. This is compounded by impersonation through false signals.
With GNSS being the most widely used system, GPS has become an “international utility” in recent decades. This has led to several organizations looking to help protect critical infrastructure. GPSJam presented a map showing the red dots of sites with the highest GPS signal interference.