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article imageFinland summons Russian ambassador over GPS blocking claims

By AFP     Nov 17, 2018 in World

Finland has summoned Russia's ambassador to answer allegations that Moscow was behind the jamming of GPS signals in Lapland during recent NATO exercises, the foreign ministry in Helsinki confirmed Saturday.

Ambassador Pavel Kuznetsov "has been invited to the ministry on Monday to discuss the GPS issue," spokeswoman Hanna Paivarinta told AFP.

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila has said the jamming of GPS satellite signals in the Arctic region had put civil aviation at risk.

The jamming coincided with Trident Juncture 18, NATO's biggest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, held several hundred kilometres (miles) from Norway's border with Russia from October 25 to November 7.

Prior to the manoeuvres, Russia had vowed to "retaliate", calling the exercises "anti-Russian".

On Thursday, Finland said it stood behind Norway's assessment that Russian ground forces in the Kola peninsula, close to the border with Norway and Finland, were responsible for jamming the signals.

"The source of the interference is obvious to us, and Norway has the same experience," Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini told the national news agency STT during a visit to Washington on Friday.

"When the time comes for reaction and dialogue, we will have those conversations, but not in public," Soini added.

Russia has denied the allegation as "baseless".

The disruption led to Finnish and Norwegian civil airspace operators issuing warnings to pilots that navigation signals in northeast Lapland were unstable.

In September 2017, Norwegian authorities reported jammed GPS signals affecting civil flights in the north of the country during Russia's large Zapad military exercise.

"The foreign ministry has on several occasions in the past raised the question with Russian authorities," Norway's defence ministry said at the time.

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