A Russian-made reconnaissance drone, which crashed Thursday evening in the Croatian capital Zagreb, poses a great mystery to the Croatian authorities. Who was the drone, and how could it veer off course for 600 km without being noticed?
Residents of Zagreb were shaken by a huge explosion when a military drone crashed near a student compound. The mayor of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomasevic, said it was “a miracle that no one was injured”.
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic was quick to say that it did not appear that Croatia was the target of a military attack. The plane, making a huge hole in the ground, must have veered off course: Zagreb is located about 570 kilometers from the border with Ukraine.
The government of Croatia confirmed that the plane, which flew at an altitude of 1,300 meters, first passed over Hungary. President Milanovic is talking about a serious accident. “We need to know how a plane of this size could go unnoticed and shot down on its way from Ukraine to Zagreb.”
Who sent the drone on its way? According to the Croatian media, the crashed plane is a Tubalev Tu-141. This is an old reconnaissance aircraft from the Soviet era. Russia says it has stopped using the device since the 1990s. The plane is said to have been used by Ukraine after 2014, including in the fighting in the Donets Basin by pro-Russian separatists. But the Ukrainian military also denied that the plane was used by them.
Wrong place name?
Another question is on the Croatian media’s mind. How did the plane get off course? One theory is that a wrong place name was entered. Yaron district in Zagreb where the plane crashed, the name of the place is similar to Yaron in Ukraine. But aircraft experts are not satisfied with this statement. According to them, the plane, which dates back to the 1970s, could not be controlled by entering an address. According to the Croatian authorities, the plane simply crashed because it ran out of fuel.
The incident, which is now under investigation, has sparked a heated debate in Croatia. There are concerns that the country is not prepared for a possible attack through the airspace.
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