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Russia to suspend US GPS stations in tit-for-tat spat

Get lost, Russian deputy tells GPS

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Russia is about to shut down American GPS stations on Russian soil – not as a reaction to the Crimean crisis, but instead in response to Washington's failure to agree to host ground stations for the Russian GLONASS system.

Russian deputy foreign minister Dmitry Rogozin said the suspension would take place beginning June 1, and will involve the stations of the American GPS satellite navigation system on the territory of Russia.

Rogozin took to twitter to assure Russians that this action will not affect the quality of the received signal by Russian users of the navigation system. "We hope that these negotiations will find solutions that will restore proportional cooperation; if not, from September 1, the operation of these stations will be stopped completely," he explained.

The Russian Federal Space Agency – aka Roscosmos – appealed to the US authorities for permission to build several measuring stations for the GLONASS system in May 2012, but the parties have failed to reach an agreement.

The New York Times blames the CIA and Pentagon for not allowing GLONASS stations in America, saying that they fear the installations could be used to spy on American interests. There may also be commercial reasons for the US to promote its domestic system over the Russian one.

The American Global Positioning System – more simply known as GPS – initially had military and civilian modes that reduced the accuracy for non-authorized users. However, during 1991's Operation Desert Storm, when some military equipment only had civil GPS systems, the higher level of accuracy was opened up for everyone and this has remained the case.

According to Rogozin, Russia and the US agreed to build the 11 GPS stations in Russia, with agreements signed in 1992 and 2011. In 2013, GLONASS monitoring stations opened in Brazil, and there are plans to extend the infrastructure to Indonesia, Australia, and Spain. ®

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