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Finnish president calls for probe of suspected Russian GPS interference

President Niinistö has added his voice to those of Finnish leaders expressing concern about jamming of signals used for navigation - while the Kremlin dismisses the allegations.

Hetan lentoasema
Enontekiö Airport in Enontekiö, Finnish Lapland (file photo). Image: Jorma Korhonen / Yle

President Sauli Niinistö has called for further clarification on suspected Russian interference with aviation GPS signals during recent Nato military exercises, which were partly based in Finnish Lapland.

“We must find out how the interference was done and who did it. I believe that there are technical devices that should be able to determine the source of the interference, and then [we should] express our views on it, even quite firmly,” Niinistö told Yle after World War I commemoration events in Paris.

Kremlin dismisses allegation

On Sunday Prime Minister Juha Sipilä told Yle that the disruptions were intentional and probably carried out by Russia. Authorities in neighbouring Nato state Norway suspect that Russia was behind parallel disturbances in their airspace. On Friday Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini promised a report into allegations that Russia may have jammed GPS devices in northern Finland.

On Monday afternoon, the Kremlin dismissed Sipilä's allegation, according to Reuters. It reported that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call he had no information that Russia could have been responsible and said his country was regularly accused of all kinds of crimes, most of which were groundless.

Niinistö heads to Latvia next

Finland and Sweden, which are close partners of Nato but not actual member states, both took part in Nato's Trident Juncture war games in late October, the largest of their kind in decades.

Niinistö said that he spoke briefly in Paris with his Russian and US counterparts. However he said that there was not enough time to discuss "major issues" with Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump. He held talks with both men on the sidelines of their summit in Helsinki last July, and also met with Putin the following month in Sochi.

On Monday, Niinistö’s office announced that he will join other heads of state in Riga this weekend to attend celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Latvian independence on 18 November, hosted by President Raimonds Vējonis.

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