Pilots in Finland and Norway taking part in NATO’s biggest military exercise in years, the Trident Juncture, have complained of their GPS signals being lost, according to Business Insider. Although the reason behind the disruptions in the GPS signals is not known yet, some observers say Russia might be responsible for it.
Last month, NATO kicked off the Trident Juncture, which Article 5 of the international military agreement describes as a simulation of “NATO’s collective response to an armed attack against one ally.”
Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has increased its deployment in Europe, with countries reportedly worried about their big neighbor’s next course of action. All 29 NATO countries are taking part in the military exercise, with Sweden and Finland also joining the drills. According to reports, it is the inclusion of the latter two countries which has particularly irked Russia. Sweden and Finland are non-NATO members, but it is not the first time that they have joined military drills carried out by the alliance.
Even so, Russian officials believe that the increasing camaraderie between Helsinki and other NATO nations would “lead to the destruction of the current security system, increase mistrust and force us to take counter-measures.” This is one reason that the disruptions in GPS signals experienced by Norwegian and Finnish pilots are being blamed on Russia. Widerøe, a Norway-based airline operating in the Nordics, said that the disruptions were experienced by planes flying into airports in the northern Norwegian region of Finnmark, near the Russian border.
Pilots and aviation officials say GPS has been disrupted over the northernmost regions of Norway and Finland—not far from one of Russia's most important military bases https://t.co/AP8O6I7u72
— Chris (@chrstphr_woody) November 9, 2018
Finland has a conflicted history with Russia, with which it shares an 830-mile border. Putin had earlier suggested that Russia could move its troops closer to the Finnish border if the country decided to conduct military operations with NATO members, as reported by the Inquisitr previously.
The director of Norway’s civil aviation authority, although he stopped short of blaming Russia directly for the GPS disruptions experienced by its pilots, nonetheless insinuated as much. “It is difficult to say what the reasons could be, but there are reasons to believe it could be related to military exercise activities outside Norway’s [borders],” he said.
Jim Townsend, a transatlantic security expert at the Center for a New American Security, said that Russia’s position on the matter is such that, if Finland decides to join NATO, it would be forced to take military action. “[Russia has said] if you guys join, we will take military measures to take into account that you two are in the alliance,” he said.
It is possible the disruption is a warning signal by Russia for non-NATO members and its neighbors to stay away from the military exercise, but despite the suggestions, there remains little evidence to back up the claim at the moment.