Tensions continue to rise in Ukraine. This time hostile pro-Russian’s threatened a UN representative.
On Wednesday an envoy, United Nations Robert Serry, went to Ukraine’s Crimea on a diplomatic mission, but his mission ended before it could even really start when armed men stopped him.
The unidentified armed men told Serry he needed to leave Crimea. Serry said the men also told him “they have received orders…. to bring me immediately to the airport.” The men never shared who gave them the orders.
The UN representative added that the men also said, “it was in my own safety. I refused and a standoff ensued.” Serry also noted that his driver was pulled from the car at one point.
Serry was trapped inside a cafe he sought shelter in when the hostile group began to crowd around him. After a two hour standoff and a conversation with the mission, Serry agreed to abandon his mission and was escorted to a car to take him to the airport by police. During all this the crowd was shouting, “Putin! Putin!”
During a phone conversation from Kyiv, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told New York reporters, “He was not kidnapped but he was seriously threatened…this action should be seriously condemned.”
“I hope this serves as a reminder to all how dangerous the situation has become in the Crimea. There is a very urgent need to de-escalate this situation. All those who are responsible and can do that must have cool heads, lower their rhetoric and fix this situation. I am very worried for what would happen if there is bloodshed. There are people in the Crimea who actually behaved there with a lot of self-restraint,” said Serry.
Serry is now in Instanbul and admits he was never worried for his own life.
New pro-Russian prime minister of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov justified the threats made against Serry. Aksyonov is quoted as saying, “We did not send them an invitation.”
UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said in a statement that Serry “will shortly return to Kiev to continue his mission, which was cut short by today’s incident.”
Here’s hoping an incident like Wednesday’s, or worse, doesn’t happen again.
One person on Twitter commended Serry for reacting calmly during the crisis.
Impressed by professional coolheadedness of UN's Robert Serry. Try to kidnap him, he walks, finds cafe, waits it out http://t.co/FQnypCwlYG
— Matt Steinglass (@mattsteinglass) March 5, 2014
— John Angier (@johnangier) March 5, 2014
Many took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the incident in Crimea.
Netherlands view: Robert Serry should be able to do his work in Crimea and not be hindered by armed people from doing his job for @UN .
— Karel van Oosterom (@KvanOosterom) March 6, 2014
What happened to Robert Serry is how #Crimea's 'govt' puppeteers handle peace talks – take a hostage, then release him, mission accomplished
— Myroslava Petsa (@myroslavapetsa) March 6, 2014
Image via YouTube.