Zagreb, Croatia — A military drone that appears to have flown over three European NATO members from the Ukrainian war zone was armed with explosive devices before the crash in the urban area of the Croatian capital, Croatia’s defense. The minister said on Sunday.
Soviet aircraft crossed Romania and Hungary before entering Croatia and crashed into a field near the dormitory late Thursday. The blast damaged about 40 parked cars, but no one was injured.
“We found explosives and traces of clues suggesting that this was not a reconnaissance aircraft. We found some of the bombs,” Croatian Defense Minister Mario Banozic said at the crash site.
He said this raises further questions about whether the drone belongs to Russia or Ukraine.
“There is an element that indicates that it may have come from both,” he said.
Aircraft accident investigators pulled most of the remaining parts of the drone out of the large craters created during the impact, including a partially damaged black box that was supposed to reveal the drone’s flight path.
Croatian officials have criticized NATO for being slow to respond to very serious incidents and questioned whether members of the military alliance are ready to respond to potential attacks.
NATO said the alliance’s integrated aerial and missile defenses tracked the flight path of objects. However, Croatian officials said state officials were not informed and NATO responded only after questions were raised by journalists.
“If this situation had been detected and resolved in time in neighboring countries, we would not have been here today,” Banozic said.
“We look for an answer to what happened. The Romanian and Hungarian defense ministers said they were assessing what happened that day. We are waiting for an answer.” He said.
Croatian investigators have identified the unmanned aerial vehicle that crashed in Zagreb as the Soviet-era Tu-141 used for reconnaissance missions in both countries in the 1980s.