UN body condemns Russian satellite interference in Europe

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) - A U.N. body condemned a series of incidents of what it said was Russian interference in the satellite systems of European countries and asked it to stop, according to a document published on Monday.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) last week reviewed a series of complaints from Ukraine and four European Union countries, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Luxembourg, about satellite interference in recent months.

The complaining parties said the incidents have jammed GPS signals, endangered air traffic control and interrupted children's TV channels to show violent images of the Ukraine war.

"The Board expressed its grave concern regarding the use of signals to cause intentional harmful interference," the Geneva-based ITU's Radio Regulations Board said in a statement.

It said that disruptions to the French and Swedish satellite networks "seemed to originate from earth station(s) located in the areas of Moscow, Kaliningrad and Pavlovka" and called them "extremely worrisome and unacceptable".

It asked Russia to immediately cease its actions and to investigate the incidents. The body also called a meeting between the affected countries and Russia to resolve the cases and prevent them from recurring.

Russia's diplomatic mission in Geneva did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moscow, which denies breaking ITU rules, had also complained about alleged satellite interference by NATO countries but this was not treated by the ITU body during last week's meeting, for reasons which were not immediately clear.

The ITU, made up of 193 member states and based in Geneva, is responsible for regulating and coordinating the global satellite system. Its constitution tasks it with coordinating efforts to eliminate harmful interference.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Alex Richardson)