Finland: Former PM trusts Norway’s assessment blaming Russia for GPS jamming

Matti Vanhanen in Helsinki, Finland on January 28, 2018. (Emmi Korhonen/Lehtikuva via Reuters)
Norway’s defence ministry announced on Tuesday evening that it had traced recent GPS jamming in Norwegian and Finnish Lapland to a Russian military base on the Kola Peninsula (northwest).

Finland’s Matti Vanhanen, a former prime minister and current chair of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told reporters on Wednesday that he believes the Norwegian assessment, but doubts that the Norwegian authorities will offer up any proof.

“There’s every reason to trust Norway, but they are not likely to disclose their measurement techniques to anyone. There will be no way to gain any technical evidence, so we could well end up in a situation where Russia denies it,” Vanhanen said.

The foreign affairs committee chair said this new information gives even more grounds to call Russia to the table for talks.

“This alone gives reason to summon the Russians and tell them that we do not accept disturbances of this kind in our airspace,” he said.

No word from Finnish defence

Widespread disturbances with global positioning systems in Lapland were reported last week. Vanhanen called for the matter to be thoroughly investigated and treated in the same manner as if there had been an encroachment into Finnish airspace.

Foreign Minister Timo Soini promised to investigate the GPS signal interference on 9 November, and Vanhanen confirmed on Wednesday that an official probe has begun. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö also called for an investigation on Monday.

In a radio interview on Sunday, PM Juha Sipilä said that Russia could be behind the jamming.

”Technology-wise it’s relatively easy to disturb a radio signal, and it’s possible that Russia was behind it,” Sipilä said at the time, adding that Russia also has the means to do it.

Vanhanen said Sipilä’s comments were a clear message in terms of Finland’s foreign policy.

“That’s already saying a lot. It sends a strong and clear signal that the world has taken notice of,” he said.

Finland’s defence ministry has not commented on the jamming.

Russia has denied being responsible for the signal disturbances.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Nearly 2,000 Canadian troops take part in NATO’s largest exercise since Cold War, CBC News

Finland: Russian military conducts confidence-building visit to Lapland Air Command in the Finnish Arctic, Radio Canada International

Norway: Russian bombers fly mission along Norwegian coast: report, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia holds anti-submarine drill in Arctic ahead of large NATO exercise in Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Major deal between Sweden’s Saab and U.S. Air Force a “sign of closer transatlantic ties”, says defence expert, Radio Sweden

United States: New symposium brings U.S. military’s attention to the Arctic, Alaska Public Media

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