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Russia Tricks GPS Signals to Hide Putin’s Location, Report Says

Valery Sharifulin / TASS

Russia has extensively deployed electronic warfare capabilities to hide President Vladimir Putin’s location, a U.S.-based research group said in a recent report.

The report suggests that GPS spoofing extends far beyond previously recorded instances in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where drivers passing by the Kremlin or Putin’s known whereabouts have seen their navigation software “teleport” them to locations several miles away.

Russia carried out 9,883 spoofing operations throughout Russia, annexed Crimea and Syria between February 2016 and November 2018, the C4ADS conflict research group said in a report based on publicly available data released last week.

The group said it found a “close correlation” between Putin’s movements and the false GPS signals that send navigation systems off-kilter.

C4ADS said the spoofing shows “these activities are much larger in scope, more diverse in geography and longer in duration” than previously reported. They also appear “far more indiscriminate, persistent and widespread,” the group said.

Though seemingly designed to stop drones from flying into restricted airspace, C4ADS said the “spillover” effect has also reached nearby civilian ships, often placing them deep inland.

The report demonstrates Russia’s “comparative advantage” in spoofing capabilities “to achieve tactical and strategic objectives at home and abroad.” However, C4ADS warned that the technology’s low cost, availability and ease of deployment could risk it being used for criminal purposes.

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