Sustained interference of GPS signals along NATO borders with Russia is intended to sow a “sense of helplessness” within Western societies, allied authorities have told Newsweek as they face off with Moscow in contested areas of northern Europe.

A rise in daily GPS interference—often concentrated around sensitive strategic locations—has raised alarm among Western governments, transport authorities and militaries over the past two years, as Moscow presses its devastating war on Ukraine and slides deeper into confrontation with NATO.

Allied officials are warning that the trend is a long-term one. “This Russian practice has, and will likely continue, to negatively affect the civilian aviation in the region,” a spokesperson for the Lithuanian Defense Ministry told Newsweek.

An official at the Polish Defense Ministry added: “It should be remembered that the war on our eastern border has radically changed the system of international security, also in the infosphere, where elements of Russia’s hybrid influence are most visible.”

GPS jamming screenshot March 5 2024
This screenshot taken on March 6, 2024 of the website shows areas of intense GPS interference along Russia’s frontiers with NATO nations over the previous 24 hours.

“Building an atmosphere of threat and a sense of helplessness in society is undoubtedly one of the goals that Russia is pursuing.”

Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email to request comment.

Jamming and spoofing interferes with Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), of which GPS is a vital one used by transportation authorities, industry, and billions of people every day. Attacks can disrupt signals entirely, or make users—among them civilian aircraft—appear to be in the wrong location.

Militaries also use GNSS interference as a defensive measure, employing electronic warfare platforms to jam and spoof signals over sensitive locations to disrupt intelligence gathering and navigation systems of weapons like missiles and drones. Both Russian cities close to Ukraine and Israeli cities within reach of the Gaza Strip, for example, regularly experience GPS interference.

“Some of it is used for armed forces’ protection,” the Lithuanian official told Newsweek of recent interference in the Baltic region. “Russian armed forces have a wide spectrum of military equipment dedicated for GNSS interference, including jamming and spoofing, at varying distances, duration and intensity,” they added.

The Russian exclave of Kaliningrad is believed to be a hub for such activity. The small strategic Russian outpost—which is on the Baltic Sea coast and sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland—is an important Russian military location, and thus a notable threat to the surrounding NATO states.

“In Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia also has these systems and uses them for GNSS interference,” the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

Elsewhere, Finnish and Norwegian authorities have identified the Kola Peninsula as another center for electronic warfare activity. The remote region sits in the Arctic Circle and has been described as “the crux” of Russia’s regional military capabilities and broader power projection efforts.

Thus far, interference appears more of a nuisance than a serious threat. “The problem of possible interference with parts of the terrestrial GPS generally does not pose a threat to civil and military aircraft at cruising altitudes, as alternative systems are then used,” the Polish defense official said.

“So far, the alleged interference of the GPS signal has not affected the effectiveness of the Polish air defense system.”

Erko Kulu, the head of the frequency management division at Estonia’s Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) told Newsweek that interference “can be spotted only in high altitudes and there are no significant problems with the operation of GPS equipment as it can be used as usual.”

“GPS signal interference does not pose a threat to the aeronavigation and air traffic, also the ground-based GPS, GALILEO and other global satellite navigation devices remain unaffected,” Kulu added.

Norwegian soldier watching Russia border 2022
A Norwegian soldier looks through binoculars out towards the Russian border in Kirkenes, northern Norway, on February 24, 2022. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted NATO nations in northern Europe to re-evaluate their preparedness for…


The TTJA said that GPS interference had occurred every day this year, while the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said disruption has increased notably “since the start of Russia’s large-scale military intervention into Ukraine in February 2022.”

Not all of this can necessarily be attributed to Moscow’s malice. “It is difficult to clearly determine the source of the alleged GPS signal interference due to the very wide spectrum of potentially influencing factors,” the Polish defense official said.

However, they added that it certainly aligns with the hybrid measures Russia is deploying to destabilize a part of Europe where—thanks to NATO’s expansion and growing defense spending—its operational options are increasingly constrained.

“In addition to components such as disinformation, propaganda or fake news, the development of electronic warfare assets of the Russian Federation is also gradually being expanded, which can be subjected to various types of tests and trials in the international environment,” the Polish official said.