West News Wire: Croatian officials chastised NATO on Saturday for what they called the alliance’s tardy response to a military drone that allegedly flew from the Ukrainian conflict zone via the airspace of three NATO member nations before crashing near Zagreb.
The Russian made unmanned aircraft flew across Romania and Hungary before crashing into a field near a student hostel in Croatia late Thursday. After a thunderous boom, 40 parked automobiles were destroyed, but no one was harmed.
NATO claimed the object’s flight path had been traced by the alliance’s integrated air and missile defense system. The Croatian prime minister, on the other hand, claimed that the country’s officials were not told and that NATO reacted only after media asked questions.
“We cannot tolerate this situation, nor should it have ever happened,” Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said while visiting the crash site.
“This was a pure and clear threat and both NATO and the EU should have reacted,” he said. “We will work to raise the readiness not only of us but of others as well. ”
Plenkovic said 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 called 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.
“Fortunately, something much worse did not happen,” Plenkovic said, adding that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban “found out about this after me.”
“This could have fallen on the nuclear power plant in Hungary. Obviously there was no good reaction and other countries did not react well. Now we have a test from which we have to learn and react much better,” he said.
He said that only an investigation can determine who launched the drone the Russians or the Ukrainians after the aircraft is pulled out of a large crater created after impact.
Both Russia and Ukraine have denied they launched the drone.
Military experts say Ukraine is the only known current operator of the Tu-141, which has a wingspan of nearly 4 meters (12 feet) and weighs just over 6 tons.