17:19 / 18.03.2022.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Plenković claims that the drone was retro-fitted to carry weapons

Cleared drone impact site in Zagreb

Cleared drone impact site in Zagreb

Foto: Davorin Visnjic / PIXSELL

The Croatian Prime Minister met with representatives of opposition parties on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the measures Croatia is taking, the influx of refugees and the circumstances surrounding the crash of a Soviet-era drone in Zagreb last Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that while it has been confirmed that the drone did come from Ukraine, it remains unclear whether it was launched by Ukrainian or Russian forces. The prime minister is however, convinced that the reconnaissance drone had been retro-fitted to carry weapons: “A detonator was found, as were pieces of shrapnel, so there's no doubt that this unmanned reconnaissance drone had been retro-fitted to carry weapons. What is definite is that an explosion occurred, which happened underground.”

However, it remains unclear why no explosion was heard by citizens in the Jarun neighborhood, where the drone fell, and why the explosion did not manifest on the surface. Prime Minister Plenković also commented on the failure of NATO's air-defense systems to alert Croatia of the incoming drone, with Romanian radars detecting the drone while it was still in Ukrainian air-space: “Due to a slow response and poor recognition of the aircraft, those responsible did not perceive the craft as presenting a threat. The place it was first registered by radar, does not mean that is where it was launched from. This could have been a mistake, sabotage, or on purpose. We don't have an answer right now.”

Some in the opposition were less than pleased with how government communicated the details of the incident to the public noting that there was a considerable volume of contradictory information being put out by officials. SDP leader Peđa Grbin: “For days we were told that the craft was being monitored during its flight. Today we know with certainty that it was treated as a radar false echo, and not as a threat.”

The drone crash was also discussed by parliament's Defense Committee. Committee chair Franko Vidović of the SDP says he is satisfied with the information that he received from Defense Minister Mario Banožić, but once again reminded that the drone entered Croatian air-space without a single warning from NATO, neighboring countries Romania and Hungary, or Croatia's limited air defenses: “The important part for our citizens, is that they can they can relax, this was just an incident, but one that must not happen again. Croatia is a member of NATO and it also has its own defenses, which right now are sufficient to respond to any kind of threat. But it is important to note that this drone flew through the airspace of three NATO member states for roughly 50 minutes, and no one reacted.”

Minister Mario Banožić reiterated that the investigation into the crash and how the drone crossed into Croatian airspace is ongoing, adding that many things will become clearer when the data from the craft's black box is analyzed.

Source: HRT

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