COMMENTS: Joanna Słowińska

Szczerba: GPS jamming is a prelude to Kremlin’s new diversion (INTERVIEW)

Zaklocenia Probable source of GPS interference. Source: Świat Wywiadu i Tajnych Służb

“I’m concerned that the GPS jamming over the Baltic is a prelude to something else that will have to be dealt with. We may be facing a test on whether the defence forces of affected countries and NATO handle such situations or consider them, e.g. weather anomalies,” says Mirosław Szczerba author of the information portal Świat Wywiadu i Tajnych Służb, OSINT practictioner and researcher dealing with the topic of special services in an interview with In December, the GPS signal over the Baltic Sea and nearby countries, including Poland was jammmed. What is the cause of this problem?

Mirosław Szczerba: We should start with the fact that the disturbances began around December 15, 2023. At the time, they were episodic. The first information that reached the OSINT community is dated December 22. The incident was noticed and reported by a Swedish analyst specializing in aviation and maritime issues, Markus Jonnson. She prepared a map of the area affected by the jamming, which was being generated in the southern part of the Baltic Sea. Just above the Polish territorial waters. This was the case until Christmas, December 24.  According to the latest information, from the morning of January 2, the problem intensified on the New Year’s Eve and New Year. The area of disruption expanded to include Finland.

Interestingly, and worth remembering, OSINT analysts checked whether the problem also applied to other waters, for example, the Black Sea and whether it could be linked to the situation in Ukraine. They discovered that the jamming was happening primarily in the Baltic Sea.

Is Russia behind this?

I’ve been considering this. Is the Kremlin testing something? Is this, for example, connected with the anti-missile shield in Redzikowo? This may be a test on jamming air traffic, at this point just passenger traffic. One of my colleagues, specializing in OSINT, presented very interesting information. He made an analysis using the Strava heat map and the Sentinel satellite. This allowed him to locate the source of the disturbance. It is an area in the Kaliningrad Oblast, about 40-45 kilometers from the Polish border. We are talking about Kamen’imeni Konstantin and Lesnoy, above Primorskaya. It is a heavily forested area, there are satellite photos, but unfortunately not very clear. However, you can see military installations with a special shield that may jam the civilian GPS signal. Thus, we have established a source. And it’s not just in, as until recently, the Kaliningrad region. This one has a large surface area. We now know the exact location of the intrusion devices. We also have satellite images of them. The OSINT community is closely monitoring this case. Interestingly, on New Year’s Eve there were very strong disturbances, it was possible to locate the places where this signal was interrupted. It took place northeast of the Gulf of Gdańsk, at the height of the Vistula Estuary, far away into the Baltic Sea. According to our research, the jamming involves a large distance that an aircraft without a GPS signal has to travel.

Although there is no information about the jamming of military signals, we are still dealing with a significant threat. It may interfere with civilian flights.

Speaking of possible Russian tests, could these be tests before jamming the signal over Ukraine?

It is possible, but I think it is more likely that it is a diversion of Western attention from the invasion of Ukraine, for example, from the New Year’s massive air attack on Kyiv. I’m concerned that these disruptions are a prelude to something that will have to be dealt with. We may be facing a test on whether the defence forces of affected countries and NATO handle such situations or consider them, e.g. weather anomalies? The Kremlin’s reaction to the Nordic countries joining the North Atlantic alliance will be serious. They will not let that slide for Sweden and Finland. Thus, the Baltic Sea region will only gain in importance, it will become a sensitive area. However, I believe that this is yet to happen. For now, we are dealing with preparations. It is important to monitor this case, we as the OSINT community will do so, but the most important thing is the response of the defense forces.

Is this the domain of the Internal Security Agency and the Military Counterintelligence Service?

Yes, but we have to remember about the role of the Navy. It has electronic reconnaissance ships and other means of monitoring radio communications in the Baltic area. In addition, aviation, both Polish and NATO’s, is crucial. They have complex warning systems such as AWACS. In fact, as a civilian, I do not know whether now, or some other time, military signals were disrupted. Personally, I’ll stick to the hypothesis that what we’re seeing is just a preliminary phase. In case of threats to the security of the state, it is necessary to play it safe. We should monitor something that may not turn out to be a significant threat, rather than ignore an event that will lead to a disaster. As Poland, we should show the Russians that we can react, identify the source of the problem and counteract it.