An ongoing campaign of propaganda-texting Ukrainian solders has, unsurprisingly, been attributed to Russian forces equipped with cell site simulators (IMSI-catchers).
The “fake texts” started lighting up the soldiers' mobes while a TV journalist, Julia Kirienko, was sheltering with them, according to Associated Press.
Another Associated Press journalist, Raphael Satter, Tweeted that he'd documented 40 such messages so far:
This is the kind of thing that pops up on Ukrainian soldiers' smartphones when they're at the front. I've documented 40+ such SMS messages. pic.twitter.com/zUv7PkonKW— Raphael Satter (@razhael) May 11, 2017
Satter later explained his belief that fake cell towers or IMSI-catchers were involved, because the texts are highly localised, arrive when the phones are showing no reception, and don't leave footprints in carrier networks.
As well as straight-out threats like “your body will be found when the snow melts”, some of the messages pretended recipients were getting their accounts skimmed by the “Anti-Terrorism Operation”:
AP's story likened the campaign to “dropping leaflets”, and quoted Kyoto University of the United States academic Nancy Snow describing the messages as “pinpoint propaganda”.
The campaign has been going on since 2014, AP writes, citing Russia's Military Review magazine for a possible source: the country's LEER-3 electronic warfare system, which includes a drone-mounted cell site simulator. ®