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Military Drone From War in Ukraine Crashes in Zagreb after Crossing Hungarian Airspace

Hungary Today 2022.03.11.

A Ukrainian Tu-141 Striz military drone is believed to have crashed near Croatia’s capital Zagreb. The aircraft likely crossed over Hungary and parts of neighboring countries before hitting the ground, according to military news site War Zone.

The Zagreb police station received a call at around 11 pm on Thursday night, after people living near Lake Jarun reported that a large explosion had rocked the area. According to locals, an object was seen falling from the air right before the explosion.

Police on arrival found a 3-meter wide and 1-meter deep crater in the area around the lake, and later found two parachutes and the wreckage of a plane or drone, which according to War Zone was likely a Soviet-era Tu-141 “Strizh” reconnaissance drone used in the military conflict in Ukraine.

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As news site Telex reports, the Croatian government confirmed on Friday morning that the wreckage found is the remains of a military reconnaissance drone, which may have come from the east and that it may have flown through Hungarian airspace.

Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said in a video statement on Friday morning:

The object was flying over Hungary for more than 40 minutes, it was flying in Croatia for less than seven minutes and crashed in the Jarun area, fortunately without causing any injuries.”

He also confirmed reports that the unmanned military aircraft may have entered the region from Ukraine. The plane may have been flying over Hungary at an altitude of 1,300 meters at a speed of 700 km/h. The large drone traveled at least 560 kilometers without apparently being detected by air defenses in Croatia and Hungary, which are both members of the Western military alliance.

The Soviet-era Tu-141 Striz reconnaissance drone must have severely malfunctioned to end in Croatia. It is reportedly used by the Ukrainian military alone.

However, Markiyan Lubkivsky, the chief adviser to the Ukrainian defense minister, told Croatian newspaper Jutarnji List that the crashed device did not belong to Ukraine and that the Ukrainian foreign ministry would later issue a statement on the incident.

According to the Croatian President, the activity in which the drone was involved does not appear to have been directed against Croatia. Milanovic said that they were investigating how it was possible for an aircraft to spend more than an hour in the airspace of NATO member countries without being noticed.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has reportedly already spoken to Viktor Orbán and NATO Ambassador Mario Nobilo.

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Facebook that he had talked with his Croatian counterpart, Gordan Grlic Radman, about the case by phone.

According to data currently available, the airspace of several NATO member states, including Hungary’s, have been affected in the flight path of the drone, he said. “During the assessment, we will closely cooperate with the Croatian authorities and other NATO allies,” Szijjártó noted.

Featured photo by Antonio Bat/EPA/MTI

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