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Russia intensifies GPS interference along with troops on the Ukrainian border

Dojammer 2021-04-30

Two recent reports from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) described a recent increase in GPS Jammer, presumably from Russian or pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. This is due to the fact that Russia has increased its troop numbers and activities along the border with Ukraine.

The OSCE is tasked with a Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine to monitor and report on how well both sides are complying with the Minsk Agreement. The agreement was signed by those involved in the conflict in September 2014 to end open hostilities.

The OSCE Mission monitors activities and compliance in the region with long-range UAVs, among other things. As early as November 2014, the organization reported that UAV operations were being thwarted by interference with GPS signals.

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Two recently published OSCE spot reports have highlighted a resurgence in the disruption.

A report dated April 7th described a malfunction that prevented the UAV from launching the day before. While the organization's UAVs have seen increased disruption since March, this was the first time since October 2014 that they had thwarted a mission before launch.

The report also documented increasing disruptive activity.

"In the past two months, 62.5 percent of long-haul SMM UAV flights have encountered GPS signal interference, and 75 percent of affected flights have experienced it more than once."

A second report, dated April 9, outlined ongoing issues that resulted in missions being canceled. It was stressed that this is a violation of the agreement signed by all parties and is a serious obstacle to the mission of the OSCE.

"Any interference with the GPS signal will hamper the mission's ability to effectively monitor and report the security situation in accordance with its mandate. Long-range UAVs are an essential part of SMM operations, particularly at night and in areas where surveillance and the Freedom of movement of the mission are restricted. "

GPS jamming and spoofing are important parts of the Russian arsenal to counter the West's technological advantage over its armed forces. A 2015 article by Sputnik boasted about their electronic warfare and prevented U.S. cruise missiles from reaching their targets at the start of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Also that this advanced ability "makes aircraft carriers unusable".

Interference with GPS signals is a regular feature of Russian military and internal security operations.

On more than one occasion, Russia has disrupted GPS signals near NATO exercises and has regularly disrupted large areas in the Middle East from a base in Syria. The spoofing of GPS signals in Moscow and the Black Sea to induce receivers to report that they are at airports that are miles from their actual location is well documented.

The United States has formally raised concerns about the recent surge in the number of Russian troops and their activities on the Ukrainian border. It has been reported that two US Navy ships are on their way to the Black Sea to oversee the situation.