Library image of NATO headquarters, Brussels (Picture: NATO TV).
NATO

Croatia criticises NATO after drone crash in Zagreb

The drone is thought to be a Soviet-era Tu-141 Strizh, believed to have flown all the way from the Ukrainian war zone.

Library image of NATO headquarters, Brussels (Picture: NATO TV).

Croatian officials have criticised NATO for what they said was its slow reaction to a military drone that apparently flew all the way from the Ukrainian war zone, over several NATO member states, before crashing in an urban area of the Croatian capital.

The drone, thought to be a Soviet-era Tu-141 Strizh, crossed Romania and Hungary before entering Croatia and slamming into a field near a student dormitory in Zagreb late on Thursday.

About 40 parked cars were damaged but no-one was injured following a loud blast.

It is understood Ukraine is the only current known operator of the drone, which has a wingspan of 12ft and weighs just over six tonnes. 

Russia and Ukraine have each denied launching the drone.

NATO said the alliance's integrated air and missile defence had tracked the object's flight path, but the Croatian prime minister said the country's authorities were not informed and NATO reacted only after questions were posed by journalists.

Watch: Rare access as crews patrol NATO's frontline.

"We cannot tolerate this situation, nor should it have ever happened," Andrej Plenkovic said while visiting the crash site.

"This was a pure and clear threat and both NATO and the EU should have reacted," he said. "We will work to raise the readiness not only of us but of others as well."

Mr Plenkovic said the reconnaissance drone flew for more than 40 minutes over Hungary and six to seven minutes over Croatia before crashing.

Earlier, Romanian defence authorities said the flying object was in Romania's air space for three minutes after crossing from Ukraine, making it hard to intercept.