SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — A special U.N. envoy has ended his mission in Ukraine's Crimea region, after U.N. officials say he was threatened by 10 to 15 armed men who ordered him to leave the region.
Officials say the confrontation began as Robert Serry was leaving naval headquarters, and it continued at a cafe. They say he was then driven to the airport by the men. According to the officials, Serry was flying to Ukraine's capital to continue his fact-finding mission.
The Dutch diplomat told an Associated Press reporter at the airport that he's safe, and that his "visit was interrupted" for reasons he doesn't understand.
Ukrainian officials had reported earlier today that Serry had been kidnapped. But a U.N. official denied that.
Serry was sent to Ukraine last week by the U.N.'s secretary-general as a special envoy because he knows the country and many of the key people there. Serry initially declined to go to Crimea after consulting with authorities there, but the U.N. says he later decided it was important to visit the peninsula -- much of which has been under the control of Russian troops since last weekend.
207-r-09-(Sound of flag-waving demonstrators chanting 'Russia', as they crowded around U.N. Special Envoy Robert Serry)--Sound of flag-waving demonstrators chanting 'Russia' as they crowded around U.N. Special Envoy Robert Serry. (5 Mar 2014)
<<CUT *207 (03/05/14)££ 00:09
APPHOTO LON131: This image taken from AP video shows UN Special Envoy to Ukraine, Robert Serry, answering questions as he leaves the naval headquarters in Simferopol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, The special U.N. envoy who is visiting Crimea was threatened by 10 to 15 armed men on Wednesday and ordered to leave the region, where Ukraine and Russia are locked in a tense standoff, U.N. officials said. Later, an Associated Press reporter found Robert Serry in the business class lounge of the Simferopol airport on Wednesday evening. "I'm safe. My visit was interrupted for reasons that I cannot understand," the Dutch diplomat said in a statement to AP. He said nothing more. (AP Photo/AP video) (5 Mar 2014)
<<APPHOTO LON131 (03/05/14)££