The very system that many of the world’s apps rely on was briefly disrupted during recent war games in the Arctic, according to Norway.
Tensions between Russia and NATO countries continue to grow following allegations made by Nordic nations that their enormous neighbour to the east intentionally disrupted the accuracy of their global positioning system (GPS).
Following NATO war games held in November last year in the Arctic region, Norway and Finland claimed that their military units were unable to receive clear GPS signals, directly affecting civilian air traffic in the region.
Now, according to Reuters, Norway has come forward to claim it has electronic proof that its GPS signals were tampered with during the war games and is demanding an explanation from the Russian government.
The war games – dubbed Trident Juncture – were the largest of their kind held by the global military alliance since the end of the Cold War, encompassing 50,000 military personnel from across 31 different countries.
In response, Russia announced the following month that it would hold its own series of large-scale war games in the Arctic later in 2019 that would involve up to 300,000 troops and 36,000 tanks.
Speaking of the tampering claims, Norway defence minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said: “Russia asked [us] to give proof. We gave them the proof.
“Russia said, ‘Thank you, we will come back when our experts review that.’ To have such an answer from Russia is a positive thing. To be a neighbour of Russia you need to be patient.”
When asked by reporters whether he thought the disruption was a deliberate act, Bakke-Jensen said: “They were exercising very close to the border and they knew this will affect areas on the other side.”
According to Euractiv, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg described the alleged disruption as “dangerous and irresponsible”, especially when “taking into account the importance of GPS signals for both civil aviation, not least for search-and-rescue, for emergency services.”
Following the original allegation last November, Russia foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that the claim was a “fantasy”, and in February another spokesperson criticised Norway for its aim to boost NATO presence in the region.