Russia Interfered With Europe's GPS Signals During NATO War Games, Finland Says

Russia intentionally disrupted GPS signals over Finland in recent weeks in response to a large NATO war game to which Finland contributed troops, the country's Prime Minister Juha Sipila has suggested.

Moscow was angered by the huge exercise, which involved 50,000 troops from 29 NATO countries, as well as Sweden and Finland. Since the maneuvers began at the end of October, Finnish authorities have noticed disruptions to the GPS network.

On Tuesday, Finland's air navigation services issued a warning to all air traffic that large-scale disruption to GPS services was affecting the north of the country. Norway sent out a similar warning for pilots at the end of October when the 2018 Trident Juncture operation began.

"It is possible that Russia has been the disrupting party in this," Sipila told public broadcaster Yle according to Reuters. "Russia is known to possess such capabilities," he added.

Although it is not a member of NATO, Finland took part in Trident Juncture as an allied country, as did Sweden. The war game simulated a Russian invasion of Norway and was NATO's largest such exercise in decades. Sixty-five vessels, 150 aircraft and 10,000 vehicles were involved alongside the 50,000 troops.

Russia reacted angrily to the drill. Just before Trident Juncture began, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu warned, "NATO's military activities near our borders have reached the highest level since the Cold War times." Shoigu noted that the purpose of the drill would be "simulating offensive military action."

And as reported by the state-backed Tass agency, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the "escalation of NATO's military and political activity in the Arctic region, namely, in the immediate vicinity of Russia on the territory of northern Norway, hasn't gone unnoticed."

Finland shares an 833-mile border with Russia. The two nations have a difficult history and have fought multiple bloody wars. During the Cold War, Finland occupied the middle ground between the NATO and Warsaw Pact nations in an effort to avoid any further conflict with the Soviet Union.

Though Helsinki has still not joined NATO, it has moved closer to the alliance in recent years amid fears of an increasingly belligerent Russia. Finland has accused the Kremlin of large-scale spying at Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dredging data traffic between the country and the European Union.

And as in other European nations, Finnish officials have also noted an uptick in the spread of propaganda and fake news stories since Russia's annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine.