Gunmen Chase UN Envoy Out of Ukraine
Protesters trap Robert Serry in cafe
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2014 1:42 PM CST
UN envoy Robert Serry addresses members of the Security Council in this 2009 file photo.   (AP Photo/David Karp)

(Newser) – UN special envoy Robert Serry suddenly aborted his stay in Crimea today after a run-in with a group of armed men. Gunmen, some in combat fatigues, reportedly surrounded Serry's car after he left a meeting at a Ukrainian naval base unaccompanied by a security detail, USA Today and the International Business Times report. They said they had orders to bring him to the airport. "I refused, I sat in the car. There was kind of a standoff," Serry said. Serry managed to get out of the car and walk to a nearby cafe, where he holed up with ITV News reporter James Mates, as a local militia blocked the entrance.

Eventually, Serry agreed to leave the country; according to Mates, he said he was "happy to leave Crimea if it helped deescalate the situation." He got into his car and drove off, as a crowd of protesters chanted, "Putin!" and "Russia!" A UN spokesperson says Serry will "shortly return to Kiev to continue his mission." Ukrainian officials originally characterized the incident to Reuters as a kidnapping. A UN deputy secretary-general soon set the record straight, saying, "He was not kidnapped, but he was seriously threatened. This action should be seriously condemned."