UN special envoy nearly kidnapped in Crimea by pro-Russian forces, forced to flee country

An interesting just-breaking story from Crimea, Ukraine. Pro-Russian armed gunmen tried to abduct the United Nations special representative to the region, Robert Serry.

ITV News’ Europe editor James Mates is with Serry right now, and live tweeting the scene.

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Apparently, armed gunmen blocked Serry’s car in the road and tried to force him into their car.  He refused, and made his way to a coffee shop, where they blocked him inside.  He was so afraid to go, he asked a news crew from ITV to stay with him and keep filming the scene.

Mates reports that the gunmen were wearing pro-Russian arm bands.

And the entire stand off is being live-tweeted by Mates.  This is just amazing.

The latest update from ITV is that the UN representative has been forced to feel the country.  As he scrambled into a crowd to get to the airport, a crowd tried to block him, chanting “Putin Putin.”

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Say what you will about comparison with Iraq and Afghanistan, but I don’t recall US troops trying to kidnap UN representatives.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • caphillprof

    And you are expecting run of the mill Americans with their insularity and hatred of the other to do all this?

  • Olterigo

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk? “This is a Jewish name?” (Have to thank Kushner for that line.)
    Yatsenyuk does not consider or hold himself out as Jewish. Numerous times he has stated he is a Catholic of Eastern rite (“греко-католик”).

  • Bill_Perdue

    The problems of vast income inequality – problems created by every Democrat and Republican regime and Congress since and including Carter – are not going to be solved by attempting to reform American capitalist society. It can’t be reformed because the political system – parties, courts, legislatures, the WH and state houses – are all owned by the rich.

    A healthy economy requires workers control of the commanding heights of the economy utilizing economic democracy and an economy guided and organized utilizing the political democracy of a workers state. Decisions about private vs. public transportation, energy policy, measures to ameliorate environment and ecological damage and efforts to save endangered species should be made democratically and voted on by workers. Workers (and in some places small farmers) are the majority and the only genuine democracy is the expression of their decisions.

    It also involves the confiscation of the wealth of the rich, nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy and the creation of global efforts to end wars, robustly punish warmongers, banksters and polluters and to aid peoples in poverty because of colonialism and environmental degradation.

    And finally, it entails constitutional provisional for the payment of high wages to all workers, including the unemployed and underemployed, retired and student workers and the poor as well as very good, interest free housing, socialized medicine and excellent public transit.

  • Bill_Perdue

    As the Russian socialists pointed out a few days ago the actions of the US and the EU that backed Putin into a corner they ignited all kinds of reactionary Russian patriotism. “March 1, 2014 — War has begun. With the aim of protecting and increasing the assets of the oligarchs in Russia and in Yanukovich’s coterie, Russia’s leadership has undertaken an invasion of Ukraine. … For Ukraine, this will also mean an escalation of ethnic conflicts; for Russia, a consolidation of dictatorial power, repression, and chauvinist hysteria, with which the ruling elite will be able to neutralize mass anger against a backdrop of deepening economic crisis. We share the concern of residents of the southeast over the nationalistic tendencies of the new authorities in Kyiv. … It is, however, our firm conviction that freedom will be won not by Putin’s tanks, but by self-organization and the people’s own struggle for their civil, political, and socio-economic rights.” http://links.org.au/node/3736

    The job of the Russian left and antiwar war movements is to fight against United Russia and Putin’s reactionary regime and the job of the American left and antiwar movements it to fight against the Democrat/Republicans and Obama’s reactionary regime.

  • FLL

    That is exactly why I have been posting comments about the possibility of mass murder on so many threads. The possibility is real and it has to be stopped.

  • FLL

    Exactly. Think of what might have happened if Saudi Arabia were a nuclear-armed world power on the scale of the U.S., China or Russia.

  • FLL

    Nowhere in any of my comments have I suggested that Nikita Khrushchev’s idea of “giving” Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 was anything other than ill-considered. Khruschev’s ploy had no practical effect since every inch of the USSR was ruled from the Kremlin with an iron fist… until the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. If thoughtful people actually read the responses from both AMERICAblog’s comment pages and around the world, they’ll understand that the criticism is not of the majority-Russian Crimea returning to Russia. The criticism is of Putin deciding the issue by rolling in Russian tanks as if we were still living in 1968. Yes, I understand that Crimea is a strategic “must-have” for Russia’s naval fleet, as well as having an ethnic Russian majority. Russia’s interests would have been better served had Putin demanded a referendum or plebiscite with UN observers to determine Crimea’s status—before moving troops in. It is obvious to most observers in Kiev and the West that Russia intends to hang on to Crimea.

    What I have warned about is the possibility of mass murder in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Dontesk and Kharkiv by paramilitary proxies of the Kremlin. That cannot stand. The situation in Donetsk is extremely fluid at the moment. I am writing this comment at 3:30 pm (Eastern Time). The Ukrainian authorities raised the Ukrainian flag 8 hours ago for the first time since the weekend. Then, an hour ago, pro-Russian forces retook the same government building and raised the Russian flag again. Meanwhile, in the central square of Donetsk, 5,000 supporters of the Ukrainian government in Kiev rallied while police kept them away from 1,000 pro-Russian supporters. If commenters on this blog suggest that it’s no big deal if Russia rolls its tanks into eastern Ukraine and sparks the widespread murder of Ukrainians, shun them. Let those commenters know that they are shunned by civilized people. No mass murder this time around. No excuses.

    By the way, the acting prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (who has gathered together a coalition cabinet from various parties), is Jewish. How odd that a Ukrainian Jew would be creating an interim government of, in the words of some AMERICAblog commenters, Nazis. Here is a Reuters report about the current situation in Donetsk, as of 2:25 pm (Eastern Time):

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/05/us-ukraine-crisis-donetsk-evacuation-idUSBREA240JC20140305

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    I think Russia’s intentions are clear at this point: The eventual annexation of Crimea.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    My wife was involved in solar power research in the late 70s — not just solar panels, but also the promising (then) new reflective technologies, such as liquid sodium towers. One of the technologies they were working on at the time was thermal reservoirs, so that a power plant could continue producing electricity, even at night.

    Some of the early projections had us mostly weaned off oil and gas by the turn of the century, if only we remained serious about it.

    Then came Reagan, and thousands of researchers found themselves out of jobs, including my spouse.

  • sanD

    Russia’s grip on oil and gas for Europe is just a little hint for those with ears. Time to triple down on solar and other renewable power and transport. We should have been doing this 30 years ago.

  • sanD

    Slight tangent: If Ronald Reagan hadn’t pulled Jimmy Carter’s solar panels from the White House roof 34 years ago, there’s a solid chance we’d now be unchained from the whims of oil oligarchs, and would be the world leader, by a thousand miles, on renewable power and transport.

    But nooooooooo.

  • A_nonymoose

    This is going to get out of control, really fast.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    I guess that shows how interested Russia is in monitoring the situation of minorities in Crimea. Too bad the Germans are too drunk on Russian natgas to do anything other than appease.

  • caphillprof

    Well perhaps the difference in your own terms is that Iraq was a regime change invasion and the Ukraine is some sort of revolution. You can’t always control a revolution. UN envoys might be kidnapped.

    I think a little less cheer leading and some careful analysis should be considered since American economists are now saying that income inequality in the U.S.A. has reached the tipping point where the moneyed interests own the Congress and the only channel for change is armed revolution.

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