Skip to main content

U.N. envoy to CNN: Situation in Crimea 'dangerous'

By Dana Ford and Sarah Aarthun, CNN
updated 8:03 AM EST, Thu March 6, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robert Serry talks to "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer"
  • The U.N. envoy to Ukraine was threatened by armed men in Crimea
  • He calls for political dialogue and a de-escalation of tensions

(CNN) -- The United Nations envoy to Ukraine who was threatened by armed men in Crimea on Wednesday told CNN he hopes his experience "serves as a reminder to all how dangerous the situation has become."

Robert Serry said the car he was traveling in was blocked by armed men in camouflage uniforms, who did not identify themselves, after he visited the headquarters of the Ukrainian navy in Simferopol.

The men told Serry they had orders to take him to the airport immediately, but Serry refused. A brief standoff ensued. The men pulled Serry's driver out of the car, and some managed to get in, the envoy said. He got out.

Serry walked and sought refuge for hours in a cafe, swarmed by protesters. He was eventually taken safely to the airport and left the country.

Ukraine: U.N. envoy taken, released
Fmr. Obama adviser: Putin not crazy
Ukraine PM: Military option not off table
Map of Crimea  Map of Crimea
Map of CrimeaMap of Crimea

While he told CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" he was not in fear for his life, the incident shows the "very urgent need to de-escalate" the tensions.

"All those who are responsible and can do that must have cool heads, lower their rhetoric, and address the situation. I'm very, very afraid for what could happen if there is bloodshed," Serry said from Istanbul, Turkey.

Leaked call raises questions about who was behind sniper attacks in Ukraine

He was in Crimea at the behest of the U.N. secretary-general to report on what's happening there.

When asked by Blitzer what he believes need to be done, the envoy replied the situation on the ground needs to be addressed first.

"A mechanism is very much needed between the parties involved on the Crimea to actually start to control the situation and to de-escalate these tensions. There can be help from the outside if the parties accept that," he said.

"What is, of course, also very important is that a political dialogue starts between representatives from the Republic of Crimea and the government in Kiev."

Serry said Ukraine could be pulled apart if the rhetoric between the East ad West continues to rise.

The incident was mentioned Wednesday by the U.S. Secretary of State, who met with his Russian counterpart in Paris.

"We have seen today with what happened with Special Envoy Serry, just how important it is to ensure the safety of those monitors and observers," John Kerry said. "Ukraine's territorial integrity must be restored and must be respected. The United States stands ready to help our friends in a time of need."

READ: Five possible ways to end the Ukraine crisis

READ: Anchor quits: I can't be part of network 'that whitewashes' Putin's actions

MAP: How Ukraine is divided

READ: Live updates from the crisis in Ukraine

CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
The Dutch investigators in charge of finding out what happened have yet to lay eyes on the wreckage or the human remains believed to be still left in the enormous debris field.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
More Russian aggression in Ukraine. More U.S. and European sanctions imposed on Moscow.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
The shooting down of MH17 may finally alert Washington and Europe to the danger of the conflict in Ukraine.
updated 7:04 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The United States and its allies are angrier at Russia now over Ukraine, but will they do anything more about it -- especially Europe?
The U.S. State Department released satellite images of what it says is photographic evidence that the Russian military has fired across its border with Ukraine to strike Ukrainian military targets.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Background information about Ukraine, the second-largest European country in area after Russia.
updated 1:25 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on securing the MH17 crash site and negotiating with the separatists.
Learn more about the victims, ongoing investigation and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
updated 3:00 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
When passengers boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last week, they couldn't have known they were about to fly over a battlefield.
updated 5:25 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The downing Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 put the pro-Russia rebels operating in Ukraine's eastern region center stage.
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Increased fighting around the MH17 crash scene blocks international investigators. CNN's Kyung Lah reports.
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
In the tangled aftermath of the disaster, two narratives have emerged -- one that most of the world subscribes to, and another that Russia and the rebels are pushing.
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
"Every country, including Russia," must determine whether it is "together with the terrorists or together with the civilized world," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said.
updated 2:11 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin bears at least some responsibility for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Sat June 28, 2014
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says peace is possible if Vladimir Putin is in the right mood.
ADVERTISEMENT