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14 Mar, 2022 19:08

Another drone falls on soil of Ukraine’s NATO neighbor

An unmarked UAV landed in the Romanian countryside, some 100 km from the border with Ukraine
Another drone falls on soil of Ukraine’s NATO neighbor

A drone bearing no markings was discovered by a farmer in northern Romania, not far from the border with Ukraine. The NATO member country’s officials are now investigating the incident, which follows last week’s drone crash in nearby Croatia.

Police and prosecutors descended on Bistrita-Nasaud county in Transylvania on Monday, after a villager found the aircraft in a field near his house, local media reported. 

“So far, the origin of the aircraft has not been established, and its owner has not been identified,” AP quoted prosecutors in the nearby city of Cluj as saying. “An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances in which the aircraft was flown and to identify the pilot of the aircraft.”

The drone was later reportedly identified by some media as Orlan-10, a Russian-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). 

Bistrita-Nasaud is on the south side of the Carpathian mountains, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Romania’s border with western Ukraine – and nowhere near the combat zone. Russian troops entered Ukraine last month, on what Moscow called a mission to demilitarize and “denazify” the government in Kiev. Ukraine has accused Russia of an unprovoked attack.

It was unclear where the drone came from, or how it may have evaded the air defenses of Romania, a key NATO member in southeastern Europe. 

Monday’s discovery is the second time in less than a week that a drone has made its way through NATO airspace. Last Thursday, an old UAV flew from the direction of Ukraine over Romania and Hungary, before crashing in the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

NATO said it had tracked the Tu-141 for hours, but made no attempt to shoot it down. Speaking on Monday, Croatian President Zoran Milanovic said his government is a “solid and loyal” ally to NATO, but ultimately needs to rely on its own air defenses.

Croatian defense minister Mario Banožić said on Sunday that the Tu-141 contained “bomb parts” and traces of explosives, indicating it was not a scouting aircraft.