Nordic satellites targeted by Russia after Sweden’s NATO accession

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Swedish authorities have accused Russia of deliberately targeting the country’s satellite networks with “harmful interference” shortly after Sweden’s accession to NATO earlier this year.

This information comes from a previously unreported letter dated June 4, sent by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations agency based in Geneva.

The PTS has requested that the ITU’s radio regulations board address the Russian disruptions at a meeting commencing Monday. According to the letter, Swedish officials initially complained to Russia about the interference on March 21, just two weeks after Sweden officially joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a move that significantly strengthened NATO’s presence in the Baltic Sea region.

This incident is part of a broader pattern of Russian attempts to disrupt European communication systems since its invasion of Ukraine in 2022. These actions are seen as tests of the European Union and NATO’s preparedness.

European satellite companies have reported months of Russian radio frequency interference, resulting in broadcast interruptions and even instances of violent programming replacing content on children’s channels.

The Swedish authorities have identified that the interference, originating from Russia and Crimea, has targeted three different Sirius satellite networks positioned at 5 degrees east orbital position. This location is crucial for satellite services in Nordic countries and eastern Europe.

In a statement to Bloomberg, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson commented: “These disruptions are, of course, serious and can be seen as part of wider Russian hybrid actions aimed at Sweden and others.

“We are working together with other countries to find a response to this action.”

Kristersson also revealed that the disruption affected TV broadcasts in Ukraine that relied on the targeted satellite, which is owned by an unnamed Swedish company. Earlier this year, Sweden also experienced a wave of cyberattacks suspected to originate from Russia.

Sweden is not alone in facing these challenges. France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg have filed similar complaints to the ITU, all seeking to discuss the interference at the upcoming Radio Regulations Board meeting.

In April, Estonia and Finland accused Moscow of jamming GPS signals, disrupting flights and maritime traffic, in what was perceived as a test of NATO members’ technological infrastructure resilience.

The European Union has also expressed concern over the situation. At an ITU Council meeting on June 10, the EU stated: “We express our concern, as several ITU member states have recently suffered harmful interferences affecting satellite signals, including GPS.”

These developments highlight the growing tensions between Russia and NATO members. As countries like Sweden strengthen their ties with NATO, they appear to become targets for various forms of technological interference, presenting new challenges for international diplomacy and security.

The upcoming ITU meeting will be crucial in addressing these issues and potentially developing strategies to counter such interference. As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the international community will respond to these alleged Russian actions and what measures will be taken to protect vital communication infrastructure.

See also: Reliance’s Jio Platforms to ignite India’s satellite internet revolution

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Tags: connectivity, cyber security, cybersecurity, eu, europe, ITU, jamming, nato, Networks, politics, russia, satellites, Security, sweden, telecoms


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