Croatia criticizes NATO after Russian drone from Ukraine war crashes in country

Police inspect site of a drone crash in Zagreb, Croatia, on March 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Police inspect site of a drone crash in Zagreb, Croatia, on March 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatian officials criticize NATO for what they say was its slow reaction to a military drone that apparently flew from the Ukrainian war zone through the airspace of three NATO member states, before crashing in the Croatian capital.

The Russian-made unmanned aircraft crossed Romania and Hungary before entering Croatia and slamming late Thursday into a field near a student dormitory. Some 40 parked cars were damaged, but no one was injured after a loud blast.

NATO said the alliance’s integrated air and missile defense had tracked the object’s flight path. But the Croatian prime minister says the country’s authorities were not informed and that NATO reacted only after questions were posed by journalists.

“We cannot tolerate this situation, nor should it have ever happened,” Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic says while visiting the crash site.

“This was a pure and clear threat and both NATO and the EU should have reacted,” he says. “We will work to raise the readiness not only of us but of others as well. ”

Plenkovic says a Soviet-era Tu-141 “Strizh” reconnaissance drone flew for over 40 minutes over Hungary and six to seven minutes over Croatia before crashing. Earlier, Romanian defense authorities said the drone was in Romania’s airspace for only three minutes after crossing from Ukraine, making it hard to intercept.

Plenkovic calls on Hungarian authorities to launch an investigation into why its defenses apparently did not notice the unmanned drone as both Croatia and Romania had little time to react to the fast-moving object.

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