19:14 / 11.03.2022.

Author: Katja Miličić

Mystery Soviet-era military drone crashes in Zagreb causing no casualties

Investigators comb through wreckage of military drone

Investigators comb through wreckage of military drone

Foto: Luka Stanzl / PIXSELL

Croatian authorities are investigating the crash of a military drone in Zagreb on Thursday evening. 

The Soviet-era drone is believed to have flown from Ukraine, over Hungary and into Croatian airspace, Croatian officials said. It crashed near student dormitories on the Sava River in the capital at around 11 pm, leaving a 3-meter-wide crater at the point of impact. Luckily, one was hurt. Several vehicles were damaged.

President Zoran Milanović described the incident as serious but not likely directed against Croatia. He also confirmed that the drone had come from Ukraine.

"We estimate this was not directed against Croatia. This was an incident that luckily did not result in any casualties. However, we have to review some procedures to determine how this happened and why this flying object, which is the size of a plane, was not shot down along the way from Ukraine towards Zagreb," Milanović said.

Officials said the drone was in Croatian air-space for only a matter of minutes and crashed once it ran out of fuel. Officials in Croatia and Hungary are investigating how it managed to travel so far, over two, possibly three, NATO countries, without anyone taking any action.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković confirmed the drone was made in Russia but it is unclear who owns it.

"Right now, we don't know if the drone was in the possession of the Russian or Ukrainian military. It came to Croatia from Hungary. According to Prime Minister Orban, it came to Hungary from Romania. Why did this happen? Was it some kind of error? Was there a loss of control (of the drone)? We can't definitively answer those questions right now," Plenković said.

Defense Minister Mario Banozić said the drone was above Croatia for only seven minutes and had been traveling at a speed of 700 km per hour.

"Realistically, what could we have done in just seven minutes? I believe we will get more information about the drone's mission from the data collected from the vehicle itself," said Banožić.

The Chief of the General Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj, said the drone was not armed with explosives and was likely a surveillance vehicle.

Ukraine's former Ambassador to Croatia, Markijan Lubkivski told Croatian Television that the drone was not Ukrainian. He said he was seeking as secretary to Ukraine's minister of defense.

"The flying object that crashed in Zagreb is not Ukrainian. Ukrainian drones have different markings. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is preparing a report in cooperation with the General Staff of the Armed Forces on this incident. Thirdly, we will ask and urge our Croatian partners to investigate in order to determine the truth,” said Lubkivski.

Hungarian officials have said Hungary was closely cooperating in the investigation of the drone with Croatia and other NATO allies.

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