Ukraine: UN special representative to 'end mission in Crimea' after he was stopped by armed men in a coffee shop

Robert Serry was threatened, but not kidnapped, according to Ukraine's Foreign Ministry

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The Independent Online

A UN special representative has reportedly agreed to end his mission in Crimea and fly out of the region after he was stopped by around fifteen armed men in a coffee shop on Wednesday.

Serry, the Netherlands' first ambassador to Ukraine, got into a car waiting outside the shop, surrounded by crowds shouting the name of Russia President Vladimir Putin, an ITN reporter said on Twitter.

Robert Serry had left the headquarters of the navy in Simferopol, when his vehicle was blocked by armed men in unmarked uniform and told him they had an order to take him to the airport, according to Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Yevhen Perebiynis.

ITN reporter James Mates who is accompanying Robert Serry, said on Twitter: "He [Serry] refused to go with men blocking car, got out and walked until he found coffee shop. He's asked ITV News team to stay with him."

Mates said in another tweeter before Serry escaped that local militia were blocking the door outside the shop.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy in Ukraine's Crimea region was stopped, but not kidnapped, according to Ukraine's foreign ministry and U.N. Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson who corrected early reports.

Eliasson, who is in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, said he had spoken to Serry who he said "is in good shape physically."

"He is now walking back to his hotel after stopping by in a cafe to get guidance to reach the hotel."

Crimea is under the control of Russian military forces, although Moscow describes its troops there who wear no insignia on their uniforms as "self-defence" units of the local administration.

Later Mates added that Serry had said he was very happy to leave Crimea "if it helped de-escalate the situation".

Additional reporting by Reuters

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