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#StopGLONASS: western manufacturers should stop supporting the Russian navigation system

Thursday, 08 December 2022, 14:00

On November 23, the 273rd day of the full-scale war, Russia attacked Ukrainian cities and infrastructure killing ten people and causing a total blackout. Ukrainians spent up to 3 days without central heating, water and power supply, Internet and mobile connection. Ukraine is preparing to help the citizens survive the repeated attacks of the terrorist state during winter, which may cause a real humanitarian disaster never seen in Europe in the 21st century before. To minimise human losses and infrastructure damages and weaken Russia's offensive capabilities, it`s vital to utilise every possible instrument in Ukraine and abroad. And here is one of them. 

Russian military drones Orlans, Shahed-136, as well as X-555 and X-101 missiles find their way to Ukrainian cities with the help of a Russian military navigation system called GLONASS. This is the Russian analogue of GPS used primarily for military purposes.

Russia uses all four navigation systems existing in the world – the US GPS, European Galileo, Chinese BeiDou and the Russian GLONASS – yet, the latest is the one they mostly rely on. 


It was developed back in 1982 upon request of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR. By using their own navigation system, Russians try to prevent risks of unwanted influence on their military operations and, no doubt, demonstrate their claims to world leadership.

However, GLONASS is fully dependent on microchips which Russia does not produce. The aggressor imports them from abroad, including Europe and the US.

In simple terms, the mechanism looks like this. In order to hit targets accurately, Russian drones or missile systems receive coordinates from GLONASS satellites in Earth orbit. To receive and process such a signal every missile has a small microchip installed, with the functions of the latter including support of several navigation systems, e.g. the Russian GLONASS.

Those microchips are where we find Russia’s Achilles heel. The aggressor state doesn't have capacities to produce such technologies on its own. That is why it's forced to import microchips from abroad, including Europe and the US. 

Sure, the European and American manufacturers cannot influence the use of their microchips, which serve a dual purpose and thus are used for instance in a fitness tracker. One may say that the only way to counter this problem is to tighten export control regulations. But in most cases, microchips manufactured in the USA or Europe arrive in Russia from third states such as China, Malaysia, Turkey etc. Dozens or even hundreds of Russian front companies find it a piece of cake to buy microchips supporting GLONASS that are still manufactured by the millions.

Our western partners led by the USA have already begun fighting against Russian schemes and straw legal entities used to circumvent export control and other sanction restrictions. Nevertheless, these significant measures are tactical in character. A strategic solution to the problem is to stop manufacturing the microchips with the support of the GLONASS system (as well as any western technologies used by the Russian war machine only). If foreign corporations simply don't produce relevant semiconductors, the GLONASS system wouldn't be able to guide Russian missiles, military drones, and other weapons, killing Ukrainians.

The Ukrainian Defence Intelligence named at least 13 companies, which produce microchips with GLONASS support. These are American Linx Technologies (California), Broadcom (California), Qualcomm (California), Telit (California), Maxim Integrated (California), TRIMBLE (Colorado), Cavli Wireless (California), as well as European u-blox AG, TE Connectivity (Switzerland),  Septentrio (Belgium), Antenova (Great Britain), Sierra Wireless and NovAtel (Canada). 

So, while the US, British, and Canadian governments and the EU member states do their best to support the Ukrainian nation in its struggle with the occupant, the companies in these countries continue to serve as spare parts providers for Russian deadly technology. 

Production of microchips with the support of the GLONASS navigation system used primarily by the Russian armed forces, use equals staying in the Russian market and backing the Russian military machine. This must be definitely stopped. I sent the official requests to Ukrainian officials, management of listed companies as well as Congress members with the aim to put the question on the highest political agenda. It should be impossible to support Ukraine and Russian GLONASS simultaneously, so every company should take the side. Hopefully, taking part in killing Ukrainians is not the business aim and together we can stop this shameful practice. 

Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, Member of Parliament of Ukraine

Disclaimer: Articles reflect their author’s point of view and do not claim to be objective or to explore every aspect of the issues they discuss. The Ukrainska Pravda editorial board does not bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided, or its interpretation, and acts solely as a publisher. The point of view of the Ukrainska Pravda editorial board may not coincide with the point of view of the article’s author.

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