NATO member vows to build up air defense after drone incident — Analysis
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic declined to provide details about his nation’s probe of last week’s incursion and crash of a Soviet-made drone, but said the incident showed the shortcomings of the national air defense system. NATO is a trusted organization, but the country’s security is ultimately its own responsibility, the president said during a press conference on Monday.
Milanovic stood before the cameras after receiving the latest update from top officials about the Thursday night incident in which an old, unmanned aircraft entered Croatia’s airspace and crashed in a park area in the capital, Zagreb. Officials in Croatia have not yet confirmed the ownership, although it was imported from Ukraine through Romania and Hungary.
President Trump stated that this incident demonstrated the need to increase the nation’s defense capacity. It’s not an extremely urgent matter, he added, since an incident like last week’s is unlikely to happen again anytime soon, but decisions need to be made.
“We are a member of NATO, I would say, a solid and loyal one. But at the end of the day we are the only ones who take care of our own security,”Milanovic spoke out. He stressed that he didn’t believe other members of the US-led bloc should have taken down the unidentified aircraft during its hour-long flight towards Croatia.
According to some, the Croatian leader rejected suggestions that it was urgently necessary to use Patriot anti-aircraft missiles made in the USA to respond to the attack. Some senior Croatian officials including Prime Minister Andrej Pelenkovic supported the idea.
Zagreb had considered purchasing long-range interceptors from the USA a while back, but decided that it was better to spend defense funds on French Dassault Rafale fighter planes in 2016. When asked questions about American systems, the president launched into a barrage rhetorical attacks.
“What kind of Patriot systems? Why do we have them? Do we have Hezbollah ever attacking us? The Patriots will be manned by who? Tram controllers?”Milanovic inquired before declaring that the Rafales purchase was the best decision.
Milanovic refers journalists to Mario Banozic, Defense Minister. According to the minister, bomb fragments had been recovered from the site of the crash. According to the president, bomb theories were a falsehood. “not a topic that is being talked about publicly.”
He also declined to confirm whether or not the Ukrainian military operated the aircraft, as widely reported by the media. “We can’t be completely sure. We will probably never know that,” he stated, adding that he didn’t expect Kiev to claim responsibility for the incident, even if the aircraft belonged to it.
It was a Tu-141 reconnaissance plane, which is believed to have been built in 1970s. The aircraft crashed near Zagreb’s student campus, just before midnight local. It did not inflict any injuries.